Monday, June 7, 2010

Dependence Upon Initial Conditions : production in motion

Lately I've been working in fabric more than ever before...  The costumes for Louder Than Words Dance Theatre's latest show, Dependence Upon Initial Conditions have occupied my best energies for weeks and weeks!  As of last Friday, the show is finally open, and it is sensational!  I'm more than grateful for the chance to work with Chris Harris, Whit Ryan, and Lacey Erb and the accomplished, beautiful dancers of the LTW company.

Please note that there are still tickets available for this awesome production.  Friday June 11 and Saturday, June 12, 7:45pm (doors) at the Newman Center's Byron Theater, DU campus, Denver, CO. 
Please visit for information and tickets.

I made all of the costumes (with a little help from Chris's Mom) as well as the major set piece for act one of the show.  That piece, we called "big white" is what I'd like to speak of here.  Let it be known that I could not have achieved this on my own and for this, I have great gratitude toward the dancers and designers of this show.

This piece was inspired by the work of my friend, the artist Ana B. Hernandez (currently based out of Philadelphia).  On two occasions she has done a performance piece using stretched white fabric over a surface under which she performs a series of physical emotional experiences.  Progressing through expressions of confusion, curiosity, frustration, anger, exhaustion, and finally relief and acceptance, Ana's performance was deeply moving to me.  I felt a need for her to emerge completely from the fabric and reveal her identity to the audience.  I wanted her to discover us, and I felt she may find a moment of love and compassion from us if she could see us and connect with us.  I certainly felt compassionate for her various states of emotion.

So, when the Louder Than Words crew offered me the opportunity to make costumes AND take the costumes a step (or many steps) further than clothing as we know it, Ana's performance re-emerged in my thoughts.  This was the opportunity to create the under fabric to above fabric experience and expression (replace the word "fabric" with "water" and that sentence seems more logical).  If I may make the connection to the story of the mermaid connecting with what and who are above the ocean's surface, that moment of emerging and discovering is quite powerful.

The fabric set covers half of the stage - approximately 1300 square feet - and has clothing elements sewn into it (shirts, pants, gloves).  Dancers begin under the fabric and gradually discover the clothing elements (Audience discovers the clothing elements here too - at first, the garments are indefinite penetrations).  First pushing themselves into the clothing and emerging above the surface and then realizing the limitations and abilities created by wearing the entire set, the dancers push, pull, are slung by and swallowed by the expanse of white.  At first there is a sense of frenetic elation upon discovering the surface.  This is followed by a realization of grace and organization within the parameters of the set as costume.  Finally, the second half of the stage, perpendicularly touched by ceiling height black, fabric bands, is populated by dancers free from the "under" condition.  These dancers move freely and powerfully, leaping and lunging across the floor.  The dancers in white respond with great energy, and the whole stage is balanced as we may understand land and ocean to be.

There is certainly more to say about costumes for this production, but I believe I will limit this post to Act one.

Again, I offer great thanks to and admiration for Choreographer and dancer, Chris Harris;  Production manager and theater technician, Whit Ryan; Theatre and lighting technician, Lacy Erb;  Music designer, Matt Morgan and the dancers: 

Julie Anderson, Kelsey Franco, Lauren Keiscome, Lindsay Pepple, Meredith Black, Mimi Ferrie, Natasha Day, Page Jenkins, Victoria Spangler, Yael Japha, and Ying Zhu.

You are all beautiful.

No comments: