Fathom & Form is a metal fabricator warehouse on Kohler Street in Los Angeles (See Kohler Street Collective). The area appears to be in the throngs of gentrification, but on the night that I was there I saw a chic night club, a store showcasing expensive looking light fixtures, and homeless camps lining the sidewalks. This was the area where Re:BorN Dance Interactive and Curious Minds Los Angeles presented their collaborative work OMNISCOPIC: an immersive performance experience.
Once inside, the place was beautiful, funky, and spacious with a large work surface that served as a bar situated on one side. White sheer curtains lined the front and back of the performance space with live-feed camera projections of the audience moving about, drinks in hand. The work’s title, OMNISCOPIC, appeared in large letters on the concrete floor and several people dressed in all black wearing intercom equipment milled about. It became clear that this was going to be a standing event with dancing, movable curtains and live video projections.
Born in Budapest, Boroka Nagy is a freelance dancer, choreographer, multimedia artist, and Founder of Re:borN Dance Interactive, received her training in New York, London and Rome. Now based in Orange Country, CA., Boroka says that she is “interested in exploring the relationships of emotions and memory to the world around us.” Her work combines live performance, screendance, and projection art and often involves interaction with audiences.
Curious Minds Los Angeles is an architecture office “focusing on sensory and immersive environments”, co-founded by Licensed Architect Jana Masset Collatz whose work investigates “the relationship between the built environment and the human body and mind”, and Erin Cuevas an architect “committed to addressing the increasingly media-centric world by challenging the intersection of culture, digital behavior and architecture.”
Portending the beginning were performers, also dressed in all black, solidly standing in what can best be described as military “at ease” stances. One dancer would then walk through the milling about crowd and replace her or his colleague, who in turn walked to replace another. As time passed, the audience realized what was happening and moved to the edges.
As the music by James Asher began, the ten-member company broke into a long energetic unison section titled Propaganda; a first of nine sections. Nagy’s movement was very physical and incorporated a great deal of floor work, body pulses and sharp leg extensions. At one point the performers split into two groups, but the unison phrase continued uninterrupted.
I last saw a Re:BorN Dance Interactive perform at the photo studio SAVANT NOBO in Chinatown. I had the same problem then as I did at the Fathom & Form. A lot of the time I simply could not see the performance, even though I was taller than almost everyone there.
What I did see, I enjoyed and I applaud the concept. I tried to watch the movement being projected on the curtains, but the camera people were in constant motion, often circling the performers, blocking the viewers, and causing the image to literally spin. The loosely hanging curtains rippled along the breeze produced by the movement and therefore, the image rippled with it.
Claustrophobia was performed to music by German experimental music group Einstürzende Neubauten. This section was performed in two groups, one on each end of the space separated by a white curtain. Again, the images were projected on these and one gleaned that both groups were performing the same movement. Unisons broke up into solos and duets and a singled-out person was continuously crowded in on and carried to a different spot.
During a duet titled Hope [together], the couple moved from one section of the curtain divided space to the next. As they came into my view, I saw that the duet was tender and beautifully performed by Stormy Gaylord and Edward Salas, but since I only saw portions of it, I cannot elaborate.
Throughout the evening we were directed by the dancers to move about the space. In the case of a solo performed by Nagy titled Hope [alone], we were slowly herded into a circle round her. Much of the solo I only saw Nagy from the waist up but in Panopticon where the audience was directed to the one side, the entire action was visible. It too began in unison, but soon broke up into trios and duets. The choreography was large and occasionally confrontational.
In These Walls Have Eyes, the performers walked about acting like they were being observed beginning yet another unison phrase that resembled the one seen in Propaganda. The finale titled Omniscopic, was again comprised of dancers moving in unison that shifted in space. As they performed, non-dancer personnel moved the audience back into the space and the dancers walked around them, staring into people’s eyes before disappearing offstage one by one.
An Omniscopic is one way of looking at the world to find the beauty in the commonplace or to draw inspiration from the understated. I will admit that I did not aggressively push my way to the front of the pack (LADC was invited to attend a press preview of this show, which we could not attend; having said that, would it have been the same show without our fellow audience members?), but perhaps had I been able to see Nagy’s work unobstructed I would have found a clear connection between her titles and choreography. I look forward to that day.
The talented cast of dancers included Kristy Dai, Stormy Gaylord, Simon Harrison, Victor Hugo, Brooke Lester, Boroka Nagy, Edward Salas, Maili Schlosser, and Emma Wiggins. The Directors of Scenography were Erin Cuevas and Jana Masset and the Director of live film capture was Katherine Helen Fisher, Safety Third Productions.
To visit the Re:BorN Dance Interactive website, click here.
To visit the Curious Minds Los Angeles website, click here.
Featured image: Re:borN Dance Interactive in OMNISCOPIC by Boroka Nagy – Photo: LA Dance Chronicle