Performing Arts: Dance
May 31, 2022
The vase, made of mycelium, weighs next to nothing. It is around 14 inches tall, and its solid root structure—that usually distributing nutrients to the stems and caps of mushrooms—is smooth to the touch. A band around its widest section is rougher and pressed into the surface is a woven texture from a hand-embroidered textile that was incorporated into the vase’s mold. This is the information relayed to a viewer by the house manager at Danspace during a preshow touch tour of iele paloumpis’s In place of catastrophe, a clear night sky.

In fact, a large portion of the dance performance itself takes place through what, in other more conventional dance spaces, would be called accessibility accommodations. But in paloumpis’s show, audio description of performance becomes a performance of its own, so that visually impaired and blind people (performers and audience members alike) are more than accommodated as the dance works to “de-center sight as a primary mode of experiencing dance”.

In similar fashion, Alejandra Ospina provides a rich narrative audio description of the performance from inside a laptop wheeled by the performers about the stage.

The in-person cast is excellent: Ogemdi Ude, Seta Morton, and Marýa Wethers are exceptionally grounded in their performances, delivering dynamic and swirling movements along with concise and evocative descriptions of each other’s moves. When the cast’s vocalizations take center stage M. Rodriguez’s voice soars, often lending powerful and glittering melodies to the space which brings a welcome unity to the sprawling and lush soundscape. Additionally, Marielys Burgos Meléndez brings a verve and playfulness that beautifully rounds out the group’s presence.

When Krishna Christine Washburn appears projected into the arch of Danspace’s sanctuary she remotely leads the rest of the cast in a joyous dance from her kitchen dance studio, making a beautiful stage picture. Below her image, the church’s altar is covered embroidery by paloumpis, and strewn with burlap roses and colorful braided fabrics. At intermission these set dressings are tied around the performers into stunning harnesses, which accentuates the more movement driven second act.

In the final moments of the performance the dancers form a strong diagonal line across the sanctuary floor and walk through a series of sacred hand gestures which the audience is invited to mirror, an act which ushers in a gentle close to paloumpis’ wonderfully caring performance.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Noah Witke Mele

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