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HomeDanceDanceAction’s Welcome to Imagi*Nation - Dance Informa Journal

DanceAction’s Welcome to Imagi*Nation – Dance Informa Journal

The Heart at West Park, New York, NY.
October 27, 2022.

Carmen Caceres/DanceAction’s Welcome to Imagi*Nation: The Trilogy is a “choose-your-own-adventure dance theater interactive efficiency” that empowers audiences to “change the course of (imaginary) historical past.” On the heart of the present is a battle between two neighboring nations whose boundary consists of a row of empty five-gallon water jugs, the presence of which gives the look of there being two separate phases. Different plastic drink bottles litter the house, organized by sort, and so they seem to kind the borders of the nations.

Every nation consists of three dancers, and every dancer appears to have a counterpart throughout the water jug border (e.g. two in energy, two bourgeois or center class, and two working class). We’re advised that our enter will decide the result of Nation A and Nation 1’s relations. The message is loud and clear: our decisions matter. “Let the sport start.” Life and politics are akin to a recreation.

Dancers in colourful (considerably mismatched) costumes are scattered throughout the stage, two “royal” figures positioned on the stage’s larger tier; one dons fur and spins round in an workplace chair whereas the opposite proves her the Aristocracy with (the admittedly drained trope of) fingers formed right into a crown above her head. A female-presenting dancer creeps across the entrance of the stage, seeming to spy on the motion that’s unfolding above.

A lot of the piece is task-based. Dancers string collectively groupings of three cans by sort, cowl the tops with tin foil, choose them up and drop them off elsewhere, generally into trash baggage. This course of, which is basically facilitated by the dancers who appear to characterize the working class, is ambiguous in reference, however we do get the sensation that every object and job actually represents one thing particular to the characters.

The music could be very stop-and-go, and the dancers largely stay on stage at some stage in the piece, frozen in place once they aren’t dancing. The motion vocabulary is primarily calm and angular, working inside a postmodern aesthetic, and there may be average use of facial features all through the piece. A lot of the choreography is coordinated, however not in unison.

Viewers members on stage left belong to Nation A and people on stage proper are members of Nation 1. The primary real interactive second (which, like the remainder, is accompanied by a form of elevator music) invitations us to place foil on the stage to assist decide: if stage left collects extra foil, they steal Nation 1’s sources; if stage proper finally ends up with extra foil, borrowing happens. Theft wins out, and the bottle wall thickens in a frantic cacophony.

One other job asks us to vote for or in opposition to persevering with to construct the wall. The viewers opts to halt wall building in favor of organizing sources, however one way or the other it looks as if the dancers are defying our vote. I begin to assume, “Possibly my vote doesn’t really matter,” which isn’t solely stunning on this context — the place we’ve been explicitly advised that our voices actually do matter — however makes me consider the helplessness that’s usually felt within the face of “actual” political conditions.

Instantly, “E-LEC-TION!” pops up on the projector and there’s a dance-off amongst the candidates. It’s a bit tacky, however we’re rewarded by attending to solid a poll to assist determine who will lead our respective nations.

Each incumbents win the election, however then there’s a battle inside Nation A, a coup of kinds. Our expectations as voting members maintain getting defied, which appears like a well-recognized story. We don’t even have the facility, which is concurrently a compelling parallel to “actual life,” however irritating within the context of the invented world of  Imagi*Nation, which promised to be extra honest. It does, nonetheless, seem to be the brand new management arrange includes extra cooperation between the nations.

One other job invitations audiences to partake in paper boat folding, however we don’t hit our quota so the nations get no healthcare. Whereas lots of the interactive components of the piece are satisfying, I can’t assist however want that the supplies appeared extra related. Why all of those recyclables? What does folding paper need to do with healthcare? When the viewers is given quick reply inquiries to reply by way of QR code, our responses are briefly displayed on the projector, however the dancers do nothing with them, the real interactiveness of the work steadily fading out because the present progresses.

Instantly, one of many “working class” dancers breaks by means of into the opposite nation earlier than exiting the house down the middle aisle between the pews. She then joins the dancer who was spying within the opening scene (who has since been MIA) in a seemingly “overseas land” that’s displayed on the projector. Are they in exile? In the meantime, the wall between Nations 1 and A is being creatively disassembled, and supplies are rearranged on the stage. The motion of the dancers on the projector has extra groove and groundedness, but additionally feels a bit contrived in its “tribal” power and might be extra refined.

The ultimate interactive second of the piece invitations the viewers to assist “rebuild” Nation 1A (or A!?) which has apparently joined collectively to kind one nation. Most individuals rise up to assist whereas the dancer who spied in the beginning frantically unfolds paper boats which are scattered between the pews, revealing letters written on them. This part feels a bit over carried out and disingenuous.

There’s a confrontation between the members of Nation 1A and the “overseas” dancers utilizing the entrance pews––an curiously site-specific athletic battle scene that includes some floorwork. Ultimately, the papers reveal phrases like Senses, Concepts, Ideas and Pictures. It’s unclear what precisely we’re speculated to make of this.

Imagi*Nation has many distinctive strengths; it’s actually interdisciplinary and experimental, demonstrates a formidable command of storytelling by means of motion, and brings know-how and reside efficiency collectively to productively develop the piece’s narrative. It does, nonetheless, go away some questions unanswered. For one, the allusions to Spanish language together with closing with a Spanish sentence are unclear. Why are we handed a Spanish pamphlet in the beginning of the piece, and what’s the relevance of together with a further language right here and there? And once more, what do the bodily supplies need to do with the concepts being put ahead? The piece is sort of too bold, however I a lot want ambition to a different reiteration of the identical, which Imagi*Nation actually was not.

By Charly Santagado of Dance Informa. 



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