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BWW Reviews: CORBiAN Visual Arts and Dance Production of DARWIN at Wash U.

CORBiAN Visual Arts and Dance is a unique group of individuals, led by artistic directors Ian Carney and Corbin Popp, who are committed to bringing startling and engaging imagery to the stage. By utilizing illuminated wiring, puppetry, and a troupe well versed in dance and movement, they're able to bring their simple, but elegant sketches to life. Their clever production Darwin played the Edison Theatre this past weekend (May 8, 2010), and provided a large and receptive audience with an eye-popping display of storytelling that's like nothing else you've ever seen.

The plot is sort of a more benign Jurassic Park-type tale, with a scientist creating a green raptor-like critter, who he provides with a heart that seems to tame his more base instincts. Though they form a bond, the scientist reluctantly sends his creation off to find his place in the world. Along the way, he encounters huge birds, fish, and a vicious red cousin. Saddened at his loss, and wary of what might have become of him, the scientist ventures out to find his lost charge. This leads to a climatic battle between red and green raptors that plays out with nods to both Star Wars and The Matrix.

The performers carry off this action with tremendous skill and grace, easily captivating the audience, and allowing them to become fully invested in the journey taking place. Each member is required to suit up in black before being covered in whatever wiring is needed to conjure up the creature appearing on stage at the time, so their anonymity is assured. But, they all possess the talent necessary to manipulate their bodies and puppets in ways that make each of them seem vibrantly alive and breathing.

Watching Darwin is an exhilarating experience, and a literal feast for the eyes and ears, with atmospheric sound cues and music neatly syncing up to the movements to produce a complete picture. Corbian Visual Arts and Dance is a force to be reckoned with, and it will be interesting to see how they evolve, especially with the inevitable technological advances that will come over time.

I really enjoyed attending the Washington University Ovations! Series at the Edison Theatre this season, because it gave me the opportunity to expose my young son to some of the most innovative and imaginative theatrical companies from around the globe. He was able to experience the thrills of a world-class clown (Jamie Adkins' Circus Incognitus), some super-cool percussion from musicians who build their own instruments (ScrapArtsMusic), and the striking visual artistry of CORBiAN Visual Arts and Dance (Darwin).

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From This Author Chris Gibson