Kim Thompson – Photo courtesy of the artist.

Born in Korea and raised in New York, dancer/choreographer Kim Thompson is currently based in Los Angeles CA. She uses a wide range of venues including Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica where she is currently presenting High Fantasy in collaboration with composer Jimi Cabeza de Vaca. Lasting less than an hour, High Fantasy includes dance, live music, projections, film, lighting effects, masks and a skateboard.

To enter the performance space, one walks through a small strobe lit foyer, through a tinsel curtain, past a woman wearing a chrome rabbit’s mask and stilettos, and a candle lit white piano. Once inside, the room has a haze of smoke as if we have entered a reefer den without the telltale odor.  Pastel lit white cubes and a small staircase make up the set, giving the scene a surreal-like atmosphere. This feeling is enhanced as the performers enter wearing very stylized costumes designed by Sami Martin Sarmiento and makeup by Josiah Cracraft.

The work was divided into six distinct sections with well-crafted transitions. A common theme on Sarmiento’s costumes was the cannabis leaf, and a “HF” logo for High Fantasy did indeed reek of being off into a zone where if you were not partaking, it was difficult to be included. These eight characters were lost in their private world and one simply had to sit back and observe like spending some time looking inside an opium den and wondering what private fantasies the users are experiencing.

High Fantasy is not unenjoyable, but it borders on becoming self-indulgent. The characters are introduced in a tableau, posing a la dancers in Madonna’s Vogue video. The two men are wearing hair turbans; one red and one green. Sam McReyolds is wearing the red turban, glossy makeup and elbow length gloves, while Hyosun Choi wears a turban and clear plastic skirt, and Tiffany Sweat resembles Barbara Eden in I Dream of Genie.

McReynolds and Ariana Daub have a dream like and sensual duet while the other members lie on the floor in a drug-like induced meditation. Dancers hop like rabbits as the woman with the rabbit mask and stilettos briefly joins the group performing an out of character unison section in the Club Fantasy section before they each get lost in their own private gyrations.

Photo by Kim Thompson

In Hyo’s somewhere else now, Hyosun Choi lies on her back, her arms folded in a death-like position while Julienne Mackey performs a very nice solo of grieving nearby. Choi then moves along the floor through a tunnel of bodies and into another dimension. The back curtain opens to reveal a projection, and two circles of videos for the in-your-face section titled 1-800-GET-HIGH. Several brief solos take place, the best and most convincing of these being performed by Angel Tyson. Lone Signal makes use of cell phone flashlight apps as the sole lighting. The very beautiful dancer Hyosun Choi is featured, and High Fantasy concludes with all cellphones focused on her face.

To be honest, the audience was not sure if the performance was over. The performers and the musicians left without a curtain call, the house lights came up, but there was no mention of an intermission in the program. We all sat for a few moments not knowing what to expect, and so several of us decided to leave.

For me, the driving electronic music composed by Jimi Cabeza de Vaca was the strongest element of High Fantasy. Sadly, the musicians’ names were not listed. The dancers performed well and each managed to stay in character for the duration of the piece. The cast included Ariana Daub, Angel Tyson, Hyosun Choi, JM Rodriguez, Julienne Mackey, Sam McReynolds, Tiffany Sweat, with Christina Nova Zych. The atmospheric lighting design by Dominik Krzanowski gives High Fantasy a nice dreamlike quality.

High Fantasy will have a second performance at 8:30 PM tonight at Highways. For more information and tickets, click here.