This past Friday night at Highways Performance Space, choreographer and artistic director of DySpRaXiAc DaNcE, Brian Golden, gave us a split bill of two works in progress. “More is Less” by performers Maddie Lacambra and Dalya Modlin, and “Two Months Too Early” performed by Bella Allen, Jane Zogbi, Spencer Seebach, and Donny Collinson. Golden, who is open to talking about his dyspraxia disability, a developmental difficulty in performing coordinated movements, patterns, and following directions, directly attributes this co-ordination to his unique choreographic style and movement direction both on the stage and in film. Along with his auditory processing disorder, Golden established a collective in DySpRaXiAc DaNcE where “we are sensory seekers  who design memories but with an eye towards the future.” After speaking with Golden, I can say that his choreography and technique onstage can only be superseded by his curiosity and magnanimity offstage.

Dalya Modlin and Maddie Lacambra in "More is Less" by Brian Golden- Photo by Skye Schmidt.

Dalya Modlin and Maddie Lacambra in “More is Less” by Brian Golden – Photo by Skye Schmidt.

In “More is Less” both Lacambra and Modlin entered the space in human-like face masks, nude colored tops and shorts, with burgundy knee high socks both on their feet as well as on their hands and arms. The piece was created for the Disabled Artists Showcase at Stomping Ground LA, and truly gave the audience a precursor look at Golden’s quirky and individual style. Taking the phrase “less is more” and turning it on its head, the socks and masks blurred the first line of communication that humans use by flattening the face and fingers. It even obscured how the two dancers related to one another on the stage, using uncomfortable methods and contact on unconventional parts of the body to convey emotion and correspondence. In one particular moment, Golden’s choreography took it a step further, and had Lacambra and Modlin curl in a fetal position upstage left, back towards the audience, hiding hands, head, and legs. As they slowly breathed, their bodies would undulate up and down, leaving the image of something almost inhuman, apart from a piece of the whole, and yet still alive and moving. I could not help but think, this is how Golden may have felt in different stages of his life with both dyspraxia and an auditory disorder; something more than the lesser parts of what is presented.

Donny Collinson, Bella Allen in "Two Months Too Early" by Brian Golden - Photo by Skye Schmidt Varga.

DySpRaXiAc DaNcE – Donny Collinson, Bella Allen in “Two Months Too Early” by Brian Golden – Photo by Skye Schmidt Varga.

In “Two Months Too Early” dancers Allen, Zogbi, Seebach, and Collinson displayed pop art makeup, by Kateryna Strukova, with white dots, thick black eyebrow expressions, and the favored bright blue teardrop(s). With nude colored leotard tops and bottoms, the dancers sported red and white polka dotted socks on their arms, with blue and white polka dotted socks on their feet. Similar to the vein of “More is Less” by covering up every body part used to express the extreme highlights of our changing positions on topics, the audience relied on the over-dramatization from both Golden’s choreography and the dancer’s expressionism in approach to one another. All four performers were made into characters, one curious and seeking more, one performative and needing the limelight, one full of shame and discomfort, and one investigating the freedoms of all the others, keeping these characters connected as a family. Like, “More is Less” we cannot help but think these are all different characters that live in Golden every day; like watching the pieces of him interact in this one moment of staging in all its unusual glory. In one section, Seebach wraps a towel around his waist like one would do coming out of the shower, only to drop it with the sense of exposure. Still fully clothed, we were given the universal feeling of vulnerability without Seebach showing any scandalous parts of his physicality. It is this illusionist theme that helped give insight into what it must have been like working with Golden. All the performers, technically impeccable, have accolades of their own in awards and milestones alike, so it is of no surprise that you could feel them push each other into new emotional capabilities.

Donny Collinson, Spencer Seebach in Two Months Too Early by Brian Golden - Photo by Skye Schmidt Varga.

DySpRaXiAc DaNcE – Donny Collinson, Spencer Seebach in Two Months Too Early by Brian Golden – Photo by Skye Schmidt Varga.

In the beginning we see the dancers dictated by the music, “Don’t Rain on my Parade” by Barbara Streisand, “Vivaldi Four Seasons” recomposed by Max Richter, and “Run Rabbit Run” by Flanagan and Allen. At first I thought these well-known pieces of music would actually annoy, having been used in so many films and pop culture moments alike, but in the world of “Two Months Too Early” it was a welcomed reminder of our similar familiarities and auditive collectives. Together, with original sound by Just Shockey, the container by which this family of odd birds grew came alive.

Brian Golden - Photo by Slade Segerson.

Brian Golden – Photo by Slade Segerson.

Golden’s choreography feels like a fresh rebellion; a turn away from Yvonne Rainer’s “no manifesto” and from one eccentric maximalist to another, I welcome the bravery. In a Q+A after the show, he stated that he wanted to make a piece that “welcomed immaturity” and wanted to “throw all these immature ideas of play into one big pot” but I have to disagree. It takes incredible maturity to not only understand who you are, but to move forward with a piece that explores and celebrates your voice as an individual amongst a small community. The dancers and Golden alike were plucky and fearless and diving into that which is uncommon and an anomaly amongst the dance in LA today. It was not minimalistic and spatial, it occupied originality in an unapologetic manner I have not seen in quite some time. DySpRaXiAc DaNcE is not to be missed and should be on everyone’s list of tour de force performances.

To learn more about Brian Golden, please visit his website.

Written by Grace Courvoisier for LA Dance Chronicle.

Featured image: DySpRaXiAc DaNcE – Dalya Modlin and Maddie Lacambra in Brian Golden’s “More Is Less” – Photo by Skye Schmidt.