A Bitter Sweet

A Bitter Sweet
November 20, 2015 Jane E. Werle

3rd LAW DANCE/THEATER’S “AUTHENTIC REPRODUCTION”

Photo by Heather Gray Photography. Images courtesy of 3rd Law Dance-Theater.

Photo by Heather Gray Photography. Images courtesy of 3rd Law Dance-Theater.

Challenging the over-valuing of televised or digital presentations of music, theater, and dance, 3rd Law Dance/Theater’s performance of Authentic Re-Production–in collaboration with digital media artist Darwin Grosse– reminds us that there is no substitute for “the experiencing of live works, humanly performed in the presence of an audience, each and every performance unique and irreproducible.” At the same time, 3rd Law embraces the use of technology by projecting live video feed of the stage and dancers, enacting the paradox it seeks to expose.

At times, the projection of a dancer (or dancers) was timed such that the actual person appeared to be dancing with her image, adding another layer to the digital/physical performance conundrum. As for the inter-dancer choreography, the use of movement series– in which a group or line of dancers execute the same gesture or position in quick succession– gave the impression that the individual dancers were creating a larger being, perhaps an undulating caterpillar or blooming flower. When one movement was echoed among rotating pairs of dancers, the repetition seemed heavy with meaning. The expressions on the dancers’ faces furthered the communication of struggle.

Photo by Heather Gray Photography. Images courtesy of 3rd Law Dance-Theater.

Photo by Heather Gray Photography. Images courtesy of 3rd Law Dance-Theater.

The stage lighting helmed by Craig Bushman becomes another player in the mix, as performers interact with it as well as their projected selves. The shifting of bodies in, out, and around squares and beams of light results in flickers and flashes reminiscent of screens and the digital transmission of information. Creating this impression by human hand and with physical humans, in this context, subverts the intention of power of the original being referenced.

When the projection dimmed and the audience was left with the stage and a dancer, another valuable point was made. This group of viewers, modern livers of the examined life, liked the screen aspect. We must do more than recognize the blandishments of media (popular media, recorded media); we must (at least occasionally) unplug. Looking for something else to do? There’s a lot of live performance out there…

The opening night audience chuckled appreciatively during the informational interludes about photographic doctoring for political reasons, superlative forgery, and the story of an ex-pat attempting to avoid a stereotypical residence in a foreign country by pre-determining what constitutes authenticity. The latter’s eventual decision to accept his un-orchestrated experience as authentic provides a useful template. If authenticity is a value judgement– “a claim of distinction–” then it is subjective rather than objective.

Photo by Heather Gray Photography. Images courtesy of 3rd Law Dance-Theater.

Photo by Heather Gray Photography. Images courtesy of 3rd Law Dance-Theater.

There is no capturable or readily identifiable quality of authenticity that can be accessed by a traveler, art lover, or life enthusiast who is more intrepid than the next. Gold is valued because many, many people agree to value it. Bitcoins may be next. One may benefit more by taking a hard look at what is truly of value to one and why, before agreeing with anyone else (or with presuppositions) as to what matters.


Jane E. Werle: With artwork and writing published by Bombay Gin, Hot Whiskey Press, Wyrd Tree Press, Summer Stock, and her own imprint, Thirsty Lizard Books, Jane is a passionate proponent of creativity, self-expression, and the pursuit of elusive and meaningful beauty. A poet, educator, and longtime nanny, she works and explores with kids, challenging young minds and safeguarding young hearts. Jane graduated with an MFA in Writing and Poetics from Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, and has come up with no compelling reason since to move away from the lively Denver area and its admirably self-made cultural opportunities. Contact Jane with editing needs, parenting problems, and extravagant travel writing proposals.

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