BWW Review: FALLS THE SHADOW Radiates at the Guggenheim
His name evokes the pantheon of Russian ballet, Balanchine, Massine, Nijinsky, and he dons its legacy with an air as natural as breath, movement, and shadow. Daniil Simkin has a stage presence that coruscates, scintillant under the wide ethereal room of the Guggenheim Museum. His is a classic artistic and folk heritage, raised by dancers in Russia, where the old imperial aristocracy wined and dined for some two hundred years over one of the most glorious cultural syntheses in art history, Russian ballet.Wearing costumes designed by Maria Grazia Chiuri, artistic director of Dior, he led dancers Cassandra Trenary, Ana Lopez and Brett Conway through choreography by Alejandro Cerrudo, with all of the understated spiritual grace of the silent, authentic dancer of archaic tradition through the quiet and powerful merging of folklore and modernism for a timeless contemporary style. It was a high event, as the pressed suits and hung garments of fashionable New York tradition came out to peer from above down into the iconic, spiraling foyer by Frank Lloyd Wright.
Amid the architectural naturalism that borders on sheer fantasy, and surrounded by post-impressionist painting collected with unrivaled enthusiasm over lifetimes of dedication to the love of art, Falls the Shadow cast its unprecedented fusion of lighting and dance. It is a choral symphony in an unheard medium, a letter of devotion to the visual technician behind the stage, and at the Guggenheim this September 4th-5th to projection designer Dmitrij Simkin and interactive media designer Arístides Job García Hernández, looking over the stage from the vertigo-inducing slope.
Falls the Shadow amplified the innate beauty of the Guggenheim, as the dancers slid out into view to the synth moods of the entrancing sound sculpture, A Moment of Grace by Marsen Jules. "We're using both the architecture and the site as an active element in the piece," said Daniil Simkin, who co-produced the world premiere, in a video interview directed by Ezra Hurwitz. "The video technology acts as a link between the site and the actual dancing."
In his lucid explanation, Simkin ventures into new perspectives on live theater, as viewed from above and in collaboration with technology, as the projections react to the dancers and vice versa. While there is a very fine line separating techno-kitsch with artful imagination, Falls the Shadow tastefully conjures the magic wizardry of premodern vision in contemporary form. On the shoulders of his forebears from the era of imperial Russian ballet, Simkin continues to make greater, societal progress through and beyond modernism relevant with his art.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Works & Process at the Guggenheim