Photo by Heather Gray. Image courtesy of 3rd Law Dance/Theater
Photo by Heather Gray. Image courtesy of 3rd Law Dance/Theater

Unafraid to take risks and experiment, the company of 3rd Law Dance/Theater is full of accomplished dancers, yet it presents much more than simply dance. It could be considered a hotbed of performance art. To rehearse with the purpose of performing is a way of striving to be better, of attempting to progress, as well as an expression of the drive to accomplish, to complete something. To invoke Newton’s third law– every action has an equal and opposite reaction– validates art, music, movement. These things necessarily have an effect, therefore they matter. 3rd Law then provides the proof.

April 21-23, 2017, at the Dairy Arts Center in Boulder, CO., marks the occasion of the Elision Project Vol. 2. The original, Vol.1, took place in April of 2016. As 3rd Law describes it, “the unorthodox nature of this risky process (elision) intends to offer a site for divergent performing arts– dance and music, most fruitfully– to converse, to create a shared space of originality among the artists.”

Composers Conor Brown, Jesse Manno, and Tom Wasinger each bring intriguing musical flavors to the performance. Brown’s clarinet is heard twice, once in an inviting, increasingly vigorous solo and once in collaboration with 3rd Law dancers. The idea that Brown’s orchestral composition was re-worked for a single musical instrument, with dancers becoming the other “instruments,” is an interesting one. This concept might present more clearly if the corresponding actions of individual dancers were as pronounced as the music, but there are some flashes of boundary-pushing movement that delight.

Photo by Annabelle Denmark.  Image courtesy of 3rd Law Dance/Theater
Photo by Annabelle Denmark. Image courtesy of 3rd Law Dance/Theater

Manno and Wasinger, both multi-instrumentalists, play the fascinating, resonating stone instruments of Wasinger’s Lost Angel Stone Ensemble. The first public performance with these instruments in 18 years is too brief– my musician companion stated that he could have listened to the polyrhythmic revelation for hours– but deeply appreciated by the audience. I am sure that a repeat, extended rendering would be extremely well-received.

Wasinger also plays the viol da gamba during Requiem for Ray, a dark and vibrant piece that pairs beautifully with the eloquent, cascading movements of the dancers. Dancer Jennifer Aiken also created the evocative costume design that features crimson underpinnings and flowing, sail-like overgarments. At times the prevailing impression is of a devastating storm at sea and the keening bend of acquiescence that somehow refuses to surrender.

Manno’s pre-show music acts as an energetic, anticipatory mood-setter. The handle of his lute doubles as the drumstick for his snare. In Charlie, Merce & Horace, his accordion keys lay out the beat for the dancers as the bellows augment their breaths, building tension. Forgetting to Remember, also with 3rd Law, perhaps best exemplifies what I understand as the ideal collaborative give and take of the Elision Project.

3rd Law’s gorgeous The Sea, which sold out last year, returns for one night only at The Arvada Center on June 3, 2017.

Jane E. Werle: At three months of age Jane E. Werle, unable to protest, was removed from Loveland, 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 (reviewer, interviewer, curator) and 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.