BWW Reviews: BLEED by Tere O'Connor at FringeArts
The original music and sound design by James Baker was compelling. One of the most beautiful passages of music featured cellist Chris Gross. Though Gross was playing solo, Baker overlaid tracks at unmeasured intervals to create an intoxicating, albeit irregular, polyphony, almost like a piece for a post-modern viol consort.
Sections of vocal music featuring the highly expressive voice of Julia Read were moving. During certain tracks on which Read sang, Baker played independent parts through different audio channels to create interesting spatial effects. In other sections, Baker overlaid his own drone-like chanting on top of itself, evoking elements of Tibetan throat singing and Medieval fauxbourdon. During rare moments, the dancers themselves used to their voices and to great effect to sonically mimic their movement, while at others, Baker played a collage of found sounds like the insects singing.
One of the only unsuccessful parts of Baker's music and sound design, in my opinion, were percussive portions to signify vaguely "tribal" drumming, which he paired to similarly "tribal" choreography O'Connor and his dancers created. Baker's musical choice here was literal to the point of being a bit essentialzing. In the future, O'Connor might want to bring the composer into the rehearsal room before a dance is completed, rather than using music composed ex post facto.
Walter Dundervill's (mostly) gender-neutral costumes were beautifully draped, and moved very well. His palette of primarily neutral grays with occasional pops of color added to the abstract structures that O'Connor created. Michael O'Connor's lighting design, though minimal, was effective.
Overall, O'Connor and his team have created an interesting and enjoyable work. BLEED left less of an impression on me than it did on some of the original audiences. But, I am curious to see more of O'Connor's work in the future, and hope is able to continue to work with these current dancers, all of whom have collaborated with him previously on separate works. Though BLEED is "choreographed" by O'Connor, it is truly a "devised" work, and its success owes much of its success to the dancers.