When we view things, we see them through a lens – a rose colored hue or tinged with ash or sunny and bright, regardless, we vary our opinions based on our perspective. Chris Harris and Louder Than Words Dancetheatre challenge perspective in The Adjacent Possible: an experiment in performance. Walking into the Dance Studio Theater at the Denver School of the Arts on Friday, March, 20, I did not know what would unfold. From the beginning, when we were given our program and ticket, it was clear, this was going to be an experience. The ticket itself served as a part of the program and explained Act 2.
Each of the two acts consisted of five disparate pieces. Act 2 was actually a replication of Act 1 with varying elements changed from costume, lighting, stage size and actual dancers. Let me explain:
Act 1 Quarks throws the audience into a Philip Glass ensemble and reminded me of helical mix with one side of a DNA strand in discordant synchronicity against the sound. Act 2 Up/down/charm/strange/top/bottom displays replicate movement in the strand with different costumes and music by Bear McCreary. Altering the accompaniment with the same movement patterns generated altered emotion from the audience.
Act 1 Correlation tangles the viewer in Act 2 Dependence by changing the visual component from tech to costume. The use of tech as a pivotal discriminator was welcomed. All too often, we view dance and just accept the lighting and costumes as rigid or even as secondary parts to the physical movement. Highlighting tech as a variance truly gave it the gravitas it deserves.
Act 1 Quantity/Act 2 Quality plays with space. The physical dance floor is shrunk in Act 2 constraining the movements and dance such that as a viewer you begin to almost feel some claustrophobia.
Act 1 72 bpm/Act 2 24 fps is a true visual feast. Initially shown on the stage, the dancers move to Melody Gardot and in Act 2 do so via video. The pre-filmed video shows the dancers in veiled view with many of the fames behind bars or as if the dancers are caged, even though they are outdoors.
Act 1 Motuhia is performed by a soloist, Micheline Zawacki. Her delicate movements elongate and entrance. Act 2 Raupapa unsettles and disrupts .The piece is performed by many different dancers, each “taking over” for the next. Talking to my friend who joined me for this performance, the most interesting aspect was the judgment. The dancer in Act 1, Micheline, set a standard. It was like each subsequent performer was then graded against the initial performance. How do we as audience have the audacity to judge? What makes us the arbitrator of excellence? Harris quotes Steven Johnson, “the adjacent possible captures both the limits and the creative potential of change and innovation. It’s the ever-present set of opportunities at the boundaries of reach. The strange and beautiful truth about the adjacent possible is that its boundaries grow as you explore them. Each new combination opens up the possibility of other new combinations.”
Receiving the possibility and putting on rose colored glasses to observe the varying optics was a break through the fourth wall. Audience is litmus. Viewing the myriad presentations, it was recognized that as humans we get box and contain. LTW breaks open the box and has the viewer renew herself into a different norm.
Modern dance was created as a rebellion to established forms of dance. As if to take this home and even further, the final piece, Daancing CYDT/Daancing LTW is a satire first performed by the Colorado Youth Dance Theatre and then by the company, Louder Than Words Dancetheatre. Set to Don Henley, the parody reminds us to not take ourselves so seriously. We get one life. Sometimes we only get one chance to do something. So why not put on the rose colored glasses and see it with opportunity, free, open and without constraints? Louder Than Words is pushing the boundaries, moving into the The Adjacent Possible. I challenge you to do the same.
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!