This past Saturday Mashup Contemporary Dance Company and Architecture Studio Curious Minds LA collaborated with the A+D Museum and HomeMakeLabs to present Expansiveness: Changing Perspective. It was a multi-media, multi-faceted event with revolving panels, very strong dancing and extremely loud music that rang in my ears for an hour afterward. I had concern for the dancers who performed on concrete and I felt for everyone else who had to try and breathe inside a windowless and airless room, no matter how nice the event turned out to be.
MashUp Contemporary Dance Company was founded by Co-Artistic Directors and Choreographer Sarah Rodenhouse and Victoria Brown in 2010. Expansiveness: Changing Perspective was choreographed by both and the movement presented was a fusion of commercial, contemporary and jazz dance styles. The dancers were incredibly strong and their stamina admirable. The choreography, however, was relentless in that there was no subtly, stillness or breath in the overall work. The final section came closer to having these qualities, but it too often fell slave to the persistent and driving beat of the music.
The program information was projected onto a wall in the lobby area, but there were no printed programs. Fortunately, we all now have cell phones, so I was able to record the information. The work was divided into three parts: Projection, Reflection and Revolution.
Part I – Projection that included most of the technical side of this performance was very entertaining and interesting at first. With at least four cameras, what was transpiring on the opposite side of the four panels then one was standing or sitting at any given time, caused the dancers’ images to multiply, divide and mirror their own selves, and enabled one not to have to be constantly moving about the room. Two of the panels were solid white for the projections and two were mirrors which played a larger role in Part II – Reflection by not only reflecting the dancers’ movement but allowed one to see around corners or what was taking place behind a panel.
As the dancers moved the panels around, the space was divided up in different ways, giving a very different perspective to how one perceived them. This worked best in Part III – Revolution. There was a drastic shift from bright white light to blue light with puddles of darkness. The choreography took on a more somber, darker emotional tone and for this reviewer, the serious dance work started at that moment, living up to the company’s public hype of “celebrating strong women through contemporary dance”. Finally the dancers had something other than their physical technique to sink their teeth into.
The panels were moved by the dancers to create straight corridors or pathways on the diagonal. Beautiful solos, duets and trios took place in front of, between and around the panels as they divided up the space. Suddenly the panels were working in tandem with the dancers instead of against them. Madisyn Maniff is a powerhouse of a dancer who stood out throughout the evening. Megan Kenson was another dancer who constantly drew my eye.
Near the end of the performance two glass panels were rolled in and combined with the center panels to form an square enclosure for Megan Kenson . After a dynamic unison phrase, the dance concluded with Kenson inside and the others placing their hands against the walls of the enclosure. Sadly, there had been several other moments where it felt like the dance was over, so the audience was not certain that it was the actual end.
I enjoyed parts of this performance, but the relentlessness of the movement combined with the loud pounding music, especially in that space, out stayed its welcome. Nothing in life is constant, unending or without shifts in speed or volume. Color me old fashioned, but I think that dancing/art should include these elements that we live with each and every day. When I left the space, I felt exhausted from the constant bombardment of sound and motion, not from being overwhelmed by memorable art.
The projections were by Matthew Conway and HomemakeLabs; Installation Design was by Project XYZ of Curious Minds LA; and the rotating hardware for the panels was by Preston Johnson, Fathom & Form. The music for Parts I & III was by Moderat; Music for Part II was a variety of artists and the Costume Stylist was Jillian Cainghug.
The very talented cast of dancers included Cierra Crowley, Dayle Embleton, Nicole Hagen, Magen Kenson, Laura Ksobiech, Leah Lagrange, Madisyn Maniff, Abigale Ruz.
To learn more about MashUp Contemporary Dance Company, click here.
Featured image: MashUp Contemporary Dance Company – Expansiveness: Changing Perspective – Photo: Roger Martin Holman for LA Dance Chronicle