February 10, 2017
Vim Vigor Dance Company premiered Future Perfect at Baruch College’s Rose Nagelberg Theatre. Named among New York’s top artists by Brooklyn Magazine in 2013, Shannon Gillen created and premiered Future Perfect last summer through a choreographic residency with DANCEworks at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara, California. Leading her company in risk-taking and creative collaboration, engaging parkour movement with emotional complexity through physical theater, Gillen’s production gathered a notable following of avid college dance advocates.
Future Perfect was set in a dim and foggy outdoor mountain scene. The black box space was covered with alpine soil-like rubber fragments, a couple of pine trees, a tent, firewood, and two platforms dressed like shallow hills. Integrating script by dramaturge Tom Lipinski and score by Martin Durov, electronic music, wildlife sounds, and cinematic sound effects interspersed recorded voice with dialog. Along a series of short scenes, characters conveyed doubts, dreams, fears, and intense relationships through shades of tension that oscillated from combat to sexual indulgence. The plot was set by a conversation between three campers standing by the firewood. The entrance of a fourth character into the scene propelled the choreographic pace and dramatic intensity as he discovered what seemed like a buried young woman under one of the platforms.
The naturalistic aesthetic of the movement was finely integrated with brief sections of choreographic unison. Gestures delayed through slow motion detonated darting inversions through space. In a constant flow of acrobatic extrapolation of partner work and contact improvisation, the five dancers conjugated flips, falls, twirls, and dives through surface levels, gathering and scattering the textured ground. Audience involvement was provoked as characters shone flashlights towards the theater’s bleacher seating and attention was claimed through high pitch screeches intermixed within the pulsating score. In contrast, relieving the work’s intensity, humorous breaks played with absurdity mingled in tunes and scenic details.
Through Future Perfect, Shannon Gillen effectively led her company in fulfilling Vim Vigor Dance Company’s mission in cultivating public interest in a contemporary theatre-dance form, bringing the audience to their feet, unequivocally endorsing her leadership in the new dance generation.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Gabriela Estrada