BWW Reviews: BREAKING SURFACE Sparks a New Wave of Dance
"Breaking Surface," performed at Theater for the New City, led the audience into an emotional experience as they followed a protagonist who is shepherded on a voyage alongside his muses. An original production by Gwyneth Larsen and William Mulholland, the grace, power, and acrobatic skill of the dance ensemble created a highly saturated scene as they seamlessly moved through moments of tension, fantasies of flight, and tales of adventure and sensuality.
The cast's physical feats, while suspended on delicate harnesses or gliding across the water logged stage, displayed their sheer technical aptitude. The audience was mystified by the quality of the performers, as well as their ability to create a fully immersive and passionate experience.
The performance opened with lead Aiden O'Shea displaying his strength as a dancer and acrobat, moving aggressively across the stage and over a stationary chair. As his angst subsided, the stage filled with water, creating a reflective pool or Second Stage that enhanced the movements of the aerial acrobats and lighting effects. His character honed a quality of naive exploration, and as the performance continued to crest, his interactions with the many muses on stage took on an exploratory nature. There were moments of superb grace and emotion when O'Shea became entwined with Larsen as she moved, skillfully suspended above him and the watery surface.
The range of emotions within the piece led the audience on a journey of discovery. The activity of O'Shea's imagination transported the viewers through an adventure with a recurring cast of characters, moments flowing from anguish to ecstasy, and climaxing in the unearthing of one man's awakening. O'Shea's character travelled through a childhood fantasy, journeying on and in paper boats, mimicking mocking silhouettes, soaring through the air, and interacting with the guiding muses who gracefully descended upon him. The narrative arc concluded with the re-entrance of the original chair, this time soaring above the stage as O'Shea swung wildly from it, unable to bring it back to the ground.
The musical score, an original composition by XvsK and John Oyzon, elevated the piece. It interspersed ambient and atmospheric sounds with soulful rhythms and the constant noise of water. Parts of the performance were punctuated by pulsing accents of water drops, amplified with the dancer's movements.
"Breaking Surface" has gone where few other dance performances dare to go. It was a thrilling multi-faceted performance of incredible skill and poetic beauty.
Photo Credit: Adele Bossard