Enter two-by-two into the darkness. Take small steps to ensure solid footing. The black will begin to cover you in a blanket. Do you feel warmth? Are you scared? What made that sound? Is there movement before you? A figure? What is he doing? You’ve just begun your journey to Alone with Todd, Control Group’s opening night full-length premiere at the Colorado Conservatory of Dance.
Muffled whispers and hushed breaths work to steady as we watch Patrick Mueller package belongings into a backpack with no light save for a red illuminated headlamp. Peter Falk is piped into the room talking to an angel.
With a live drum set expelling percussives, an overhead spotlight presents a circle upon the floor. Patrick uses hand and leap exploration as if to enter and then back away. Over him a moving tarp of black rises and falls. He slides over and through the impermanence of reality as if unable to join in day-to-day activity in the light.
We enter a dream-like state below a North Carolina caterpillar-cocooned gossamer tree-like structure. Intimate monologue recalling boot camp fills our ears. As if waking, we watch a headlamp drum a syncopated dance of contorted floorwork with the back or elbow serving as fulcrum. A body spiral, evocative of emotional turmoil experienced during military service, moves the audience to lean in closer. The swimming/suspended demonic tumbling so low to the ground expresses a struggle with gravity.
Overlaid interviews begin to play with Todd Bilsborough describing, once again, his deployment and the memories associated. A distressed, broken soldier moves within the shadows and closes by wrapping himself. An enshrouded body moving so slowly, stumbling, tackling each breath underneath the plastic covering his head. The audience uncomfortable, shifting, suffocating themselves with the terror and pain our soldier/dancer is experiencing.
The narration of a memory takes form in memnoir or non-linear translation with palpable sadness, terror, discomfort and pain. The journey of a soldier abroad unimaginable, this journey of return to “normal” life told through movement evokes compassion and empathy. The re-entry into life complicates and creates struggles many cannot express. Addressing such a personal subject, one that few Americans have had, could be seen a treason to compatriots, could be seen as tender release.
It is a topic rarely discussed and rarely broached. Control Group, Todd, you are applauded for your courage and for your masterful delivery of transcendental experience. Interested in being transported? The show will run through November 12. Get your tickets here.
W. Celeste Davis Stragand: Published author, showcased artist and Denver transplant, W. Celeste Davis Stragand is not new to the art world. Her passion for delving into the root of existence and movement will challenge and praise both choreographers and the audience. A graduate of Texas A&M University, Celeste holds two bachelor of arts degrees, one in Chemistry and the other in English. She is also a graduate of Naropa University holding a Masters of Fine Arts in Writing and Poetics from the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. A former national slam team poet, Celeste is a graduate of the Downtown Denver Partnership Leadership Program and sits on the American Institute of Architects Colorado board. Her passion and enthusiasm for the kinetic arts will frolic and frenzy through the upcoming season of performances with many hopes for an encore!