LuneAseas, formerly known as 6Degrees Collaborative, transformed the McNichols Building into a cosmic dreamland for a one-night-only performance of “Le Voyage Dans La Lune” on August 17, 2019. Loosely based upon the 1902 silent film of the same name by Georges Méliès, the work charted a little girl’s imagined trip to the moon after witnessing a shocking portrayal of domestic abuse between her parents.
Aside from a few technical difficulties, the introductory acts were fun and aimed to get the somewhat reluctant audience up and dancing. Jen Archer of Babywood Hatbox and DeDe Rockwell of Dee Dee and the Shakers took turns playing beautifully reimagined covers and original songs. One song had an associated line dance and the performers were able to entice a small group of audience members to get up and dance. After the live music, a short whimsical shadow dance ensued, followed by a Charlie Chaplin-inspired duet. All of this occurred before the title piece even began.
The company of artists was eager to involve the audience and make the show an interactive experience. After taking a seat, each audience member was given a piece of ribbon by one of the young performers, along with instructions to follow the girl with a flag of the matching color later in the show. However, the length of time between the receipt of the ribbon and the point in the show to use them was too long and the lighting made the colors difficult to distinguish, resulting in a rather confused audience. After a quick reminder from a performer, the audience made their way out of their seats to add to the array of sea creatures moving on stage.
A tribute to the creativity of the company, LuneAseas turned a space with no backstage into a theater in the round, but in reverse. Instead of performing in the center of the space with the audience surrounding them, the audience was placed in the center and the performance occurred in a circular fashion around the edges. One of the central performance aspects of the show was shadow dance, which suits LuneAseas’ quirky style of theatrical dance with a performance art feel. Three separate panels of sheets and lights were set up in a half circle to create a space that allowed the performers to alternate between shadow and light. Much of this was brilliantly executed, however, there were moments of shadow play improvisation during the introductory period that felt distracting and some performers tended to drop character when moving from one panel to another, though they were still clearly visible to the audience.
The true highlight of the show was the costuming. The team of costumers, including Leah Casper, Jen Archer, Rita Corey, Lorenzo Martinez Gomez, Kelsey Kiernan, and Louise Kello, should be proud of what they were able to accomplish vis à vis the portrayal of crabs using parasols, jellyfish by means of clear umbrellas, and a “moon mother” in a hoop dress that allowed her to be lifted and lowered unseen.
The soundscape was atmospheric, alternating between haunting and discordantly sinister. Providing the live musical composition and improvisations for almost the entire work were: Shane Burke on guitar, piano, vocals, and cajon, Cheyenne Dane on harp and vocals, and Leah Casper on piano and vocals. The music was at times reactionary to the movement, just one example of the truly collaborative nature of LuneAseas. In fact, the entire cast participated in the creation of the choreography, which felt satisfactorily organic at times and contrived at others.
At times disturbing, yet entirely entertaining, this performance was supported by the Denver Arts & Venues Cultural Partner Program. A self-described “incubation team,” LuneAseas strives to produce thought-provoking multi-media works that combine dance with theatre, music, fashion, and visual art. To learn more about LunAseas’ projects, performances, mission, and recent name change, visit https://www.luneaseas.org/.
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.