BWW Review: Entity Contemporary Dance Company Weaves Transparent/See Making A Statement About Our Commodity-Driven Culture Through Movement At The Montalban Theatre

BWW Review:  Entity Contemporary Dance Company Weaves Transparent/See Making A Statement About Our Commodity-Driven Culture Through Movement At The Montalban Theatre

During the three-day MOVES Dance Festival held at the Montalban Theatre in Hollywood,

https://www.themontalban.com/

the hard-working contemporary dance company Entity presented a fascinating work that they have based on "The True Cost," a documentary by Andrew Morgan about the garment and fashion industry and the effects of greed, fear, power and poverty it causes in our world.

Through dance and sound, they have constructed a visual imagery of the inner workings of both a "sweatshop" environment, becoming parts of the machinery at times, overworked and working their hands to the bone at a frantic pace, and it then becomes a trying-on party for one very finicky customer, who is meant to signify consumers as a whole. He tries on garment after garment, posing and trying out the different looks, grabbing at and mishandling each one, then discarding them in heaps all over the floor. The busy-bee workers have their hands full cleaning up after him and trying to lure him with new, more enticing pieces of clothing which he restlessly rejects. The session becomes exhaustive for everyone, and during this segment, the weariness and tough conditions for the workers are felt, in contrast to the carefree dismissive attitude the consumer uses to ignore the hard work and skills it takes to create each piece of clothing, finally climaxing in a sort of revenge section, where the workers begin to pile each garment on him, a mountain of clothes, layer after layer, wrapping them around his body, twirling and spinning him in all directions, finally covering his head with a very long scarf, looking like he's wearing a giant ace bandage around his head when they finish. Disoriented, unable to see, he is staggering with the weight of all the clothes, which continue, more frantically, to be piled on top of him.

Building to a frenzy, he keeps trying to leave, but is blocked each time by one of the dancers. In an interesting slow-motion section, he is now stripped little by little of all the clothes, finally, except for that scarf covering his head. It is then cleverly unwound from him, intensely putting him through the ringer, flinging him from place to place, ultimately leaving him, standing, facing upstage, holding the end of that strung-out long scarf. BWW Review:  Entity Contemporary Dance Company Weaves Transparent/See Making A Statement About Our Commodity-Driven Culture Through Movement At The Montalban Theatre

The two creative collaborators, Marissa Osato and Will Johnston, with the help of their company members, developed in rehearsals the unique movements, combinations and formations that represent the human and environmental impacts of the fast fashion industry.

Speaking with Marissa after the performance, she explained, "We had never considered where the clothes we bought came from and our curiosity led us to continue researching this complex topic. Reading and watching stories of women who made clothing (100 pairs of hands touch our clothes before they are ready for purchase!) through resources like http://remake.world/the-movement/ drove us to examine their experiences. Our resulting evening length work, "Transparent/see," examines the misconnection between garment maker and consumer within the fast fashion industry. Responding to the simple question, "Who made this?," we sought to illuminate the hands behind the products we wear. Exploring themes of overconsumption, sacrifice, personalization, and community, "Transparent/see" questions what is lost and found in our commodity-driven culture. We feel that this topic affects everyone and that it was important to simply bring awareness to the issues surrounding this subject matter, so consumers could hopefully make more educated clothes-buying choices."

A lofty task, but the piece is constructed meticulously, using fast-paced, strong staccato and sharp modern movements to signify, along with the unified wardrobe and pounding drumbeats, the pace and pressures in an overly-loaded working environment.

There are chairs lining stage right and left where the workers sit, frantically pantomiming sewing, stitching, cutting, measuring, while center stage the story unfolds. Fervently performing difficult floor work, using quick, angular arm movements, the dancers balancing as they cleanly hold battlements in unison, with the use of rounds of the same movement with great effectiveness. There are technically difficult solos and duets throughout, partner work and lifts that are very explanatory to the theme and visually interesting to watch unfold.

BWW Review:  Entity Contemporary Dance Company Weaves Transparent/See Making A Statement About Our Commodity-Driven Culture Through Movement At The Montalban TheatreDerek Tabada, portraying the "consumer," is fascinating to watch as he flits and romps through his search for just the right piece of clothing, intermittently dancing with the workers, who each tantalize him with the next hopefully perfect fit.

The accompaniment, composed by Kurtis Sprung, is an effective combination of tempos and rhythms, strong drumbeats and techno sounds. BWW Review:  Entity Contemporary Dance Company Weaves Transparent/See Making A Statement About Our Commodity-Driven Culture Through Movement At The Montalban Theatre

A lot of the movement is very intricate, odd, even spastic at times, as they repetitively on purpose create the inner-workings of the clothing industry. The use of improvising during the performance made it more personalized for the performers and added fresh nuances to the work.

The clean, varied choreography was brought to life by the sturdy company members: Karen Chuang, BWW Review:  Entity Contemporary Dance Company Weaves Transparent/See Making A Statement About Our Commodity-Driven Culture Through Movement At The Montalban Theatre(who is a stand-out performer) with Kent Boyd, Emily Crouch, Shiori Kamijo, Angel Mammoliti, Grayson McGuire, Eugenia Rodriguez, Diana Schoenfield and Derek Tabada. The Guest Ensemble Dancers aptly added the necessary movements to pull off this interesting endeavor.

Looking forward to seeing more inventive work from this wonderfully multi-cultured and durable Company. You can learn more about them @ www.entitycontempoarydance.com.

Produced by EDGE Performing Arts Center, Glendale Community College, Elements Dance Space, and Break the Floor Productions.

Photos courtesy of Mike Esperanza and BREAK THE FLOOR PRODUCTIONS



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From This Author Valerie-Jean Miller

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