April 4, 2015
The ceiling crackled blue and snapped red, like a horizontal firecracker, suggesting a cartoonish electric charge between two people connected, though standing off kilter, far apart. A young woman (Melissa Toogood) reached up as though to touch the heavens, while a star-studded floor implied that she was already there. A man (Silas Reiner) with his thick hair hanging mid-back slapped his bare feet, which jiggled his naked behind, as he repeatedly circled a pulsing light center stage; his shadow preceded him and then followed him; sometimes, his hip veered left or his jaw jutted forward as though unseen forces determined his alignment. A metallic, multi-textured body suit, metaphorical threads compressing time between the medieval era (coat of arms) and today (space suits), sparkled as Hiroki ichinsoe isolated his body parts, moving as though invisible.
Silas Riener, Cori Kresge, Hiroki Ichinose, and Melissa Toogood had their own extended solos, giving the 55 minute performance four styles - stoic, jagged, lyrical and disjointed, though each possessed a meditative quality. Yet, when the four shared the stage, sometimes Mitchell threw in an action hero still, for example, when Riener stood with his legs in parallel second, his chest high, fists triumphantly on his hips while the other three dancers sprawled on the floor.
Davison Scandrett designed each moment as desired by choreographer Rashaun Mitchell, who said in the talk back with Will Rawls, “We had lit the floor, the walls, and then I asked Scandrett, couldn’t we use lasers to light the ceiling?” A life-long sci-fi and fantasy fan, Mitchell asked his dancers to respond to text taken from “Nova,” written in 1968 by Samuel Delay when he was 25, and James Baldwin’s “Giovanni’s Room” (1956). He asked them, “What parts of us are borrowed or stolen or native or intrinsic?”
Light Years (working title) felt like a whimsical sketch, its images evolving slowly, its impact scatter-shot.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Deirdre Towers