The body can work rigorously, intimately, and thoughtfully to convey an idea, concept, story. “I think the body does the best job,” Andrea Gise , artistic director of DANCE AEGIS, tells me over a chilled ice tea one very hot afternoon. In her newest work WARNING: This Piece Contains Dark Themes, Gise experiments with the body by playing with technology in a post-apocalyptic reality, using chance and choice to broadcast multiple radio stations and create a live-feed dissonance. Fascinated by society’s collective obsession with calamity based media , Andrea investigates the fixation on societal collapse. How does the body begin do this? Dancers physically ban together, lean into one another, and collapse…glance at one another, making or dismissing eye contact….moving in energetically alert, palpable, and increasingly stressful ways with speed and dealing with that stress as it arrives…using their voices to recite government issued “content warnings.” The body is more than a physical structure, it is a tool for communication.
Can a gesture be loaded with ammunition? I visited choreographer Robin Conrad’s rehearsal and was immediately taken by the language, context, and power of gestural vocabulary. I watched seven women move sharply and precisely, creating a palette of images and gestural moments that felt familiar, disconcerting, and beautiful all at once. There’s a certain disturbing formality felt by the work, as Conrad repurposes the speech-making gestures of Hitler and other dictators; and yet, there’s also a playfully dark sense of humor in the work as a collective of female dancers re-embody and manipulate the shadows of an oppressive past with props like wigs. “I wanted to explore how these images, seen on a body responsible for the death of so many people (and many of my relatives) can be re-embodied by survivors, re-occupied, and how this shifts power and evokes possibilities for new paths, new ways of being,” says Conrad. Her newest body of work we came by way of loss reminds us to never forget, to hold fire, and treasure that which led us to be.
Don’t be fooled, Troupe Vertigo’s TABLEAUX is no circus act. Choreographed and directed by Aloysia Gavre and developed in partnership with her husband Rex Camphuis, this work is part of an ongoing commitment to create moving and intimate pieces through which audiences are both captivated by the environment and the artists skills. Five technically sound artists inquire about confinement and freedom, embarking on a poetic and visually enticing journey full of surprises; expectations bend (literally!), movement twists and turns, the body encapsulates the imagination in mentally and physically spell-binding, boundary pushing, and exhilarating ways. We may experience moments of visual shock onstage that seem to separate us as the viewers from the performers, and yet the work is all-encompassing as it envelopes us with a comforting sense of synchronicity and unity, ultimately bringing us together.