Performing Arts: Dance
March 12, 2018
Marking the 4th annual Tisch Dance Works concert, students from Tisch presented work featuring Dance & Technology. The night consisted of 11 works that were meant to explore technology while creating dance. Bringing some humor and self-reflection up top, the first piece experienced some technical difficulties. They were remedied shortly and the program began.

From Beacon, the first dance by Isaac Spector jumped right into the theme of the evening headfirst by using video screens and live feeds in innovative ways. Though it was many ideas packed into too short a time, the creative explorations of the tech were appreciated especially as the night progressed. The most striking image was perhaps in Spector’s use of cameras as his two dances faced away from each other on opposite sides of the stage. They began interacting with each other. Their images were being cast onto two screens mid-stage where close-ups of the dancers heads were looking right at each other. It highlighted the way technology can both bring us closer together while letting us forget that we are separated by distance in a way that is both encouraging and a bit dark.

Technology was then explored in a variety of ways, like in development of the piece, such as in Tacky, Wet, dainty, Flossy or with heat motion detectors tracking movement in V/R. What was unsurprising yet disappointing was the trend in the pieces to simply use video projected onto the cycholarama. Six of the eleven pieces took this approach, and while most of those dances were beautifully made it felt more like a choice of staging and lighting rather than an incorporation of technology into the choreography.

Two of the pieces of the evening were real crowd pleasers. The first being Reminiscence by Chaery Moon. A sultry and virtuosic pas-de-deux, Reminiscence was exactly what it was trying to be- a beautiful dance. With no pretense, these dancers accompanied by two dancing spotlights video projected onto the back sike, gave a nice release to the audience who could simply watch and enjoy. The second piece that was loved by the audience was Brandon Kazen-Maddox's COME WITH ME: A Multimedia American Sign Language Dance Theater Production. Incorporating ASL into the movement and a momentum driving live band, this piece did a great job of explaining to the hearing-abled audience through video what each sign was, then putting the dancers on the stage to use those signs to build and create dance around them. It was dance that was literally translatable, which was fascinating to see.

With a strong ending to the evening, Lost in Translation explored the ideas of communication as the title suggests. The movement focused around a pair of two-sided pyramids made of white stretchy fabric. Thy acted as enclosures, and could be moved and pushed into and against, in ways that built the relationship between the male and female dancer on stage. The technological aspects came later in the piece in a wholly satisfying way. With the use of a mini projector, word were projected by the dancers onto these white objects as well as acting as a backlight to the object creating an effect that this technology was essential to capture.

Though lacking in interesting technology, for me the standout piece of the evening was nonsequitur choreographed by Jenna Charko. Charko’s movement language drew me in immediately, using sharp angular movements that explored the negative space of the stage and the bodies of the two dancers on stage. Every movement felt surprising and there was a humor in the clear relationship between the dancers on stage. These dancers also had a clear relationship to the video that was projecting images of a snowy winter walk. Each dancer wore muted colors and a surgical mask covering the face, allowing their eyes and bodies to convey each emotion and thought.

Overall, the evening was enjoyable, filled with beautiful dance but I was left wanting more explorations of technology in the choreography itself. I look forward to seeing how the Dance & Technology program develops as it continue to grow and give students the outlet to try new tools to create their work.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Annie Woller

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