Dance: Noon and Night
ONE LAYER of Lucinda Childs’ DANCE is the eleven dancers who spill across the stage with movement that is like a live feed of entrances and exits in head-spinning sequences that are contained in constant parameters, and propelled by the pulsating flurry of the Philip Glass score which is experienced behind the final layer of Sol LeWitt’s film projected on a scrim that covers the stage.
Like a wash of sight and sound, DANCE transports you to another place and time, in a work that is still resonant after 30 years! The work was originally unlike any before it, and since then we have seen much like it from different choreographers who use Glass and his Eastern minimalist looping scores. Today, video and film are common elements of much post modern work. But seen again today, the work remains freshly transportive in a hypnotic triage of mediums together. You must be prepared for what you will see, because it is not narrative work that stands up to our expectations of what dance should be. This was Childs’ motivation: to push the boundaries of the common definition of dance. The use of space and time and energy are unusually stretched and intensified.
The vertical carriage and the simplicity of the arms above the skittering footwork displaying petite allegro are the ingredients that Childs never veers from during the 55-minute performance. The dancers, dressed elegantly in white, weave through the footage and skim above the music, with an s elegant and joyous result. There are subtle changes in direction and timing that can only be reflected in Glass’ score, and as you watch and stop predicting big changes, you notice delightful small ones.
Most powerful is the second section which shows the projected image of Childs dancing in the original version. She stands and faces the audience with a look of confidence and intensity–watching us, watch her. As the performer, Caitlin Scranton, dances through the film spinning and swinging her arms in a commanding way, we see a dancer caught in the movement almost being taken over by it as seen in early ritualistic dancing. Kudos to Spoleto for bringing this important dance for us to enjoy.
I also slipped into a Dance at Noon performance to see Unbound Dance Company. Under the Artistic Direction of Caroline Lewis-Jones and Susan Marie Dabaney, these dancers from Columbia are true powerhouses. The ensemble of 12 or so present several dances with the common theme of hope and the human will to survive during the challenges of cancer–for those it takes and for those left behind. The dancing is charged with graceful athleticism and is strong enough to communicate on its own without the overuse of text and melodramatic sequences that fall prey to being too literal. There is no doubt about the dedication of these dancers to their subject matter and the beautiful investment they have in their impressive dancing.
I also caught Fabiana Cozza, a Brazillian Samba singer, at the Cistern on Saturday night. The singer had a beautifully rich voice that came from deep within. Her movements and the musical spell she created were perfect in the setting of the sweltering, sultry night at the College of Charleston Cistern below a huge unbrella of oak trees adorned with Spanish moss that seemed to sing along with the soulful performer.