When Ethereum Dance Co. invited its patrons to “take a stroll with us…through the Labyrinth,” there was nothing figurative or metaphoric about it. Upon arriving at The StarHouse, in the foothills west of Boulder, viewers were guided to a gathering place from which they could look upon the mountainous meadow. In the meadow, the performers flitted through the grass, playfully engaging with each other and the landscape. Labyrinth, a one-night-only immersive performance, began on May 11, 2018 when “whimsical guides” wordlessly divided the viewers into four groups and beckoned us to follow them.
The StarHouse is a living temple, designed around sacred geometry. As part of the performance, we were guided through five sacred sites: Tetractys, Mary’s Well, Power Tower, Labyrinth, and Dodecahedron. For more information about the Sacred Sites, please visit: http://thestarhouse.net/map-sacred-sites/. At each of the Sacred Sites, a dancer used movement and the constructs of the site to help the viewer explore and experience them. We were even invited to walk the Labyrinth! The dancers themselves were all powerful nonverbal communicators who deftly utilized the closeness of the audience and moved fearlessly through the natural environment. Many embodied woodland creatures or nymphs, and used only her own breath for a sound score. This portion of the performance was both experiential and educational; each viewer was free to take away from the performance what they personally needed or desired.
Transitions and timing are essential for an immersive performance like Labyrinth. Ethereum’s dancers and collaborators were seamless in the execution of these transitions. The weather was even well-timed! The outdoor portion of the performance was a lovely way to welcome the dusk. Just as it was time for the indoor portion of the performance, a misty rain began to settle in along the mountaintops. As we moved inside, it was impossible not to feel the great warmth and welcome of the temple in comparison to the chill of the outside.
The dancers led us into The StarHouse, where their movement was accompanied by crystal singing bowls, harmonium, voice, and bamboo flute played by two musicians and Sound Keepers: Michelle Coutinho and Jonathan Skinas. The five dancers alternated between partner work, improvisations, and group movement, even interacting with and playing the singing bowls. The highlight of the evening was a touchingly beautiful solo that dancer Liz Hargett skillfully performed with confidence and strength.
Should Labyrinth be performed again in the future, posting more accurate instructions on the website for patrons detailing the level of walking involved, where the walking will take place, and the amount of time spent outside, would allow for a more enjoyable experience of this portion of the performance.
Ethereum Dance Co. was created in 2017 by Artistic Director Andrea Jayne Martin. The next opportunity to view Ethereum’s work will be in Holding Space on October 5 and 6, 2018. For more information, please visit: https://ethereumdanceco.org/upcoming/
Jessica Riggs is the Director of Life/Art Dance Ensemble, a 501(c)3 registered nonprofit dance company that focuses on artistic collaboration and making the arts more accessible. She possesses Bachelors degrees in both Dance and Dietetics from Colorado State University, as well as a Masters degree in Food Science and Human Nutrition. In addition to Life/Art’s productions, Jessica’s choreography has been featured in Ascential Dance Theatre’s Assemblage, Transition Theater’s Kali Creates Fate, GAMMA-UT’s New Music Festival at the University of Texas, the Dairy Arts Center’s Women in Classical Music Soundscape concert, and in Prague at the American Music Festival in collaboration with Stratus Chamber Orchestra. Jessica also dances with Cindy Brandle Dance Company and the Lost Walks Band and teaches dance classes at the Lakewood Cultural Center.