Take My Breath Away

Take My Breath Away
June 7, 2014 W. Celeste Davis Stragand
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Opening night for the Louder Than Words Dancetheatre (LTW), Playground Ensemble and Jeff NychtBperformance at the in-the-round Elizabeth Eriksen Byron Theater at the University of Denver’s Newman Center thrilled the 100+ attendees by taking them on a three-act journey.

Act 1 begins with ambient sounds leading the dancers in nascent motion as if this was their first experience with breath and the power of oxygen within the body. The rhysomic patterns and progression of the music reminded me of molecules beginning to heat within a solution. Cannons of movement rippled throughout and allowed you to view either one or multiple dancers.

Since this performance took place at the Byron theater, LTW took advantage of the multi-level theater. Each act had an intermission whereupon the audience was encouraged to move. Viewing Act 1 from Level 2, the next logical progression was to rise above and view Act 2 from Level 3 finishing with Act 3 on the stage level a mere foot from the performers.

The exploration of the theater itself provided me as viewer a chance to feel connected to the performance. I was able to choose my view and how I wanted to interface with the dance.

From Level 3, Act 2 burst open with a raw exploit of one dancer struggling under blindfold. My breath constricted under the ominous lighting, harmonic discord of almost dungeonous music that filled the room. The lighting had an overlay that provided a feeling of lung-like arteries on the dance floor and the patterns and movements coupled with the varying costumes and up to 21 dancers at once on the floor was almost suffocating. The dancers themselves moved with audible breadth and held their breath while moving then pausing to pant and resume movement.

Following the intensity of Act 2, Act 3 brought light and an ethereal release. The dancers, all in white moved in what seemed like a presentation of valor or oceanic waves. The oboe within the live Playground Ensemble really added to this upbeat seemingly dancing in the hills presentation. With the dancers within arms length, it was visually stunning to see through the movements and the variation of patterns versus the bird’s eye perspective from Act 2.

Post-performance, LTW asked the audience to stay and offer feedback. What a novel concept! I go to a show and can offer my likes and dislikes? About half of the audience remained providing accolades and introspection on the affects of the movement coupled with music. The presentation was more than a stagnant viewing, it was a full-on experience. The tension and constriction palpable and seemingly felt by all who commented proved that LTW succeeds in breaking the 4th wall. Their audiences leave transformed, but rather than take my word for it – go see BREATH. Performances run tonight at 8p and again on June 13 and 14. Tickets may be purchased here.


W. Celeste Davis Stragand: Published author, showcased artist and local Denverite, 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!

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