New York, NY
June 21, 2012
By Martha Sherman
Copyright © 2012 by Martha Sherman
“Hungry Kite” is a puzzle without a solution – and a title that gives nary a clue. In this dance/film conundrum, Israeli choreographer Deganit Shemy describes her goal: to present the dancers and objects in their “bare essence” as simple facts onstage, “perpetually in a state of potential, waiting to manifest.” The essentials onstage were dancers moving solo, then mirroring, watching and manipulating each other, wrapped throughout in live and taped video imagery. Although the choreographer suggested that the audience watch without expectation, the intriguing “simple facts” became a game of disconnected messages, waiting to be linked and interpreted.
The angled movement suited the boxy stage of the Chocolate Factory. Two translucent screens, hanging midway between the floor and ceiling, cut the stage diagonally. They were hung at opposing angles, with enough clearing for dancers to peer over; a third screen covered the back wall.
The dance opened with the dancers visible but shaded behind one of the angled screens. They were seated in a circle, playing with small objects in a game of uncertain rules. A dancer threw an article of clothing over the screen; another rolled her body under that screen; rubber duckies and a paper airplane were pitched away. The objects came back in later scenes – the yellow duckies in a large video projection; the airplane, as a sex toy in search of a mouth; the thrown clothing as part of dances that were squirmed on the floor. Each seemed like it might be a clue – but to what?
Several duets were danced in parallel. Two dancers moved, one clearly visible; the other, behind the screen, darkly. In a prone duet, another pair connected on the floor in mirrored movements creating Rorschach blots, arms and legs in strong skewed patterns. This was not a dance of curves, but of crisp shifting lines. The challenge was keeping track of it all, catching the movement in the light downstage or hidden in the darkness upstage behind a screen, the dancers at different edges of the stage, and in different films on different screens.
Jim Findlay, the artist whose collage of visuals swept behind and around the dancers, wove live video with recorded, often making us guess which was which. Oversized face shots mixed with swirling movements; a film of a quiet forest was periodically interspersed with the dancing films, the tops of the trees in a light breeze just barely moving in their own dance. The video was not just design; it drove the action and mood. The films added their own “simple facts,” offering more opportunities for interpretation - and just as little closure.
Sometimes the dancers were interested only in themselves, sometimes only in each other or the objects that littered the space. Often a dancer behind a screen would peer over it to gaze at another dancer or a pair moving in front. In several scenes, one of the dancers would approach the onstage camera, and either set it up to film a partner, or move in front and film herself. A second miniature camera danced with Warner, who wore it on her thumb, and pointed it at herself. She was her own partner, as she danced – and filmed – a graceful run around the space. Like several of the live recordings, clips of the running film later came back to haunt other scenes.
But the most cinematic moment was not Findlay’s; it was the dancers’ alone. In the closing scene, Denisa Musilova slid prone across the floor toward the trio of her partners who were moving in unison, curling elbows and knees. The three gazed down at what looked like Musilova’s corpse. Her body began to bubble (David Lynch-like,) and wind-up roaches, slugs, and crawly things came buzzing and rolling out from under Musilova’s body. The lights came down and the work closed on this scene, one that was hard not to interpret as a manifestation of potential: but of an outcome far more creepy than we’d hoped.
copyright © 2012 by Martha Sherman
Photo: Rebecca Warner, Denisa Musilova, and Savina Theodorou in “Hungry Kite”, by Chris Cameron