Denver band Lost Walks, a kind of project-based local supergroup, performed their gothic rock opera Wolf, Woman, Man to a full house at art space The Bakery on February 9 and 10, 2018. As a smaller venue, The Bakery could not contain the volume of Lost Walks, and the earplugs provided at the door were a considerate touch. Lost Walks’ sound does not welcome obvious categorization, and invites comparison to artists of various persuasions including Australian rock, Danish lyrical sludge, German electronica, and melancholy Americana. The aforementioned project’s aim is to bring awareness to wildlife rescue, inspired by a 2015 visit to the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center. Presenter Ratio Beerworks dedicated a portion of beer-related donations received during the shows to the Rocky Mountain Wolf Project. Denver musicians Anthony Ruptak and Teacup Gorilla opened on Friday and Saturday, respectively.
The premise of Wolf, Woman, Man involves a geographically isolated couple and their encounter with a lone wolf. A sense of growing connection to internal and external wildness and inevitable, difficult change resonates throughout the opera, with more than a tinge of despair and violence. While the founders of Lost Walks have long intended to include a dance element in their presentation of this work, that goal has just recently come to fruition. Billed as the Lost Walks dancers, the troupe’s movements effectively illustrate and greatly enhance both the performance itself and the audience’s access to the story being told.
The dancers provide emphasis that heavy drums cannot, and embody many of the emotions viewers may feel but be unable to express. The band contextualizes viewers’ understanding of the dancing by providing worded, real-time scenarios that inform the dancers’ movements. Precise and evocative, the interaction of choreography and sound create a rich and spellbinding atmosphere which is further supported by the careful lighting of a subtly multi-layered, room-sized art installation of paintings and photographs. In the future, it would be wonderful to have a paper program or website link detailing the names and roles of all the artists and organizations involved.
The use by the dancers of a roughly 7’x7’ scrim for an ingenious scene of living shadow play, featuring an exaggerated wolf skull, manages to both highlight and obscure the event it is meant to convey. Moving through the audience, onstage with the band, and quite close to those in the front row, the Lost Walks dancers included and sometimes immersed viewers in the collaborative multimedia experience that Wolf, Woman, Man has fully become.
As an infant Jane E. Werle, unable to protest, was removed from Colorado by her well-meaning parents. In 2004 she was able to rectify this error when she relocated from Massachusetts to Boulder for graduate school. One M.F.A. and a husband later, Jane works to further the arts in the Front Range as a writer/editor and dance enthusiast (no-shame, first-on-the-floor amateur– despite some training– dancer). Jane is also a longtime nanny and a visual artist, taking one of these very seriously and the other as a growth experience. Every child she’s cared for has experienced some form of the SDP: Spontaneous Dance Party.