Flash Response to Vault/6 Degrees Performance
by Jacqueline Nalett
May 13, 2010
There are many beautiful and intriguing reasons to see this show, two of which are the use of trapeze bars and water onstage. The first half of the show opened with video of the Vault performers rehearsing. I enjoyed seeing some of the process behind the product. We got to see them warm up, figure out how to grab onto the bars with various body parts, and make funny facial expressions when something didn’t go quite as planned. For me, being allowed to see some of the preparation breeds a deeper appreciation of the final product. One of my favorite sections was the group floorwork in Amy Ell’s choreography. Movements that might normally flow straight from one to the next, here were divided into segments at the joints. For example, you might see a toe touch down, then a pause, the ankle flexing, knee bending, pause, hip shifting, pause, torso twisting, spine contracting, pause, shoulder rolling, pause, elbow creasing, wrist curving, pause, fingers pressing, position change. The breaks were smooth and deliberate, and because they were performed in unison by the group, their morphing effect was magnified. I absolutely loved this section, it was gorgeous. At some points during the position changes, their hands were running along their clothing, and very slyly one dancer was removing pieces of her costume to reveal another underneath, but is was performed as coolly as a cucumber and when she suddenly lay there with more skin revealed than the other dancers, it was a very satisfying image.
When they rose to standing level movement, there were some more rapid moves that I thought would keep going at that momentum, but then a sudden freeze in a kind of flatback position, feet apart, focus down, and then a slow turning of the faces toward the audience. This pattern of rapid moves, freeze, slow, detailed gesture continued and because I’m a sucker for suspenseful dynamics, I loved it.
The aerial work was very intriguing. Dancers got onto the bars in darkness and were spun by others underneath them, so when the lights came up, what we saw were 5 women standing, legs apart, ankles against the ropes, spinning in the air, the triangle created by their legs inside of the triangle of the trapeze bar and ropes. It was very interesting to see just how many movement and shape possibilities there are when suspended above the floor. They hung upside down, with one or both knees draped over the bar. They laid arched over the bar, torso facing upward, limbs dangling softly. They even used geometry, twisted and pressed their feet away to create new angles with the ropes and bodies. They really were dancing in the air. I look forward to seeing more of the Vault’s performances, and even taking a class or two myself!
The second half of the evening belonged to Toni Valle’s choreography, which included video images of flowers and rain, arm movements that looked super human and lots of water on the dancers. That’s a cool combination indeed! The first section was very sculptural, one dancer standing in the middle of a group and one dancer alone stage right, with fingers spread apart like tree branches, arms crooked at angles to the sides, arms that appear to break and pop at more joints than the it has. Beautiful pink costumes draped in multiple layers around their heads and torsos and the sound of rain filled the space. The dancers crouched in various positions, moved their arms in mechanical undulations, stepped around each other to form multi-level human statues, and then beautiful music started and the dancers narrowly spun and stealthily kicked, dropped, and crawled their way around the stage, finishing this first section by being rained upon for real. Water begins falling from the upstage left area, in a linear sheet that splashes the dances as they move into their final pose. If for no other reason than to see it rain onstage, you have to attend this show, but there is much more to satisfy you in this second half.
In one section Toni Valle appears crouched with a little girl clinging to the front of her body. Toni procedes to flip her around, lift her and dance with the little girl attached to her in some way as if the girl is as light as a feather. Her moves were sharp, deliberate and strong with awesome arms that “popped and locked” in unique ways. In another section a dancer does a solo but she is not completely alone. A dancer in semi-darkness and clothed in pants and a hoodie, walks around the edges of the light, whispers in her ear and performs movements in unison with her but only in certain spots. I love the effect of these sudden unison moments with one dancer as the focus and one as a dancing shadow, so to speak. It’s a very effective technique.
Another very unique section was a solo dancer with an oil lamp. As I watched I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me. She was doing the cool, muscular arm breaks that I had seen in the earlier section..but hers were somehow also vibrating. From my position in the back of the audience, every time she did those two arm moves, digging her fists forward and down toward the floor, there were vibrations that I could see running the length of her arms. Great effect..not sure how she did it. There was a nicely done trio where the dancers got to wet their hair from a bowl of water onstage and then fling it around while they danced, which looked very fun and refreshing J. There are other group sections with unique choreographic qualities, but one of the most beautiful parts is the very ending shower scene. The dancer’s shadow against the fabric and the real water falling was just sexy and gorgeous. The fabric moves with her, her shadow created great shapes, and she wrapped herself in it. I just loved this section and thought it appropriate as the ending. It seemed like Toni Valle had shown us many forms of baptism, but it all came back to the most simple, personal form that we each give ourselves everyday.