By Helen Ly
The opening week of RECAT’s 11th annual New Original Works Festival spin in with eclectic dance that merge music and movement with artists pushing format, something that for a city that relies on creative formula, it is change that’s aspires to elevate performance, even if some are still in experimental stages.
Themed with cultural displacement, Wilfried Souly's "Saana/The Foreigner", Rosana Gamson/World Wide's "Still", and Overtone Industries' "Iceland" opened the festival with a sold-out house on Friday night, and the performance began in the lobby. Pulling from the traditions of his native Burkina, Souly laid rugs on the floor, then guided cultural lovers in the lobby with emotional call to take seats with background music of African chanting and children, and passages from Vivaldi's "Four Seasons," (which the chant for a Grand Ave cultural tribe.) The lobby crowd watched Souly, then in accidental choreography of urban tribal performances, they surrounded him like he was a street performer before he led a audience migration into the theatre. Inside Souly was accompanied by multi-instrumentalists Julio Montero and Tom Moose, who as immigrants to the U.S. add another layer of what displacement and journey is with their mixing of music genre and foreign language sampling timed to dance.
"Still,” as choreographed by Rosanna Gamson, explored the neuroscience of dreams expressed with shifting black curtains, dimming and moving lights, and six emotive dancers for a polished and nuanced performance of what is tension clashing with tender. The two women and four men, in tank top and briefs, intertwined bodies with violent struggle against the sounds of strings, classical music, and post-rock, the pauses and ends with quiet visceral stillness.
Overtone Industires' "Iceland" was a miniature musical with a team of ten from the Hidden Folk Choir, two soloists, and a chamber orchestra. The performance offered the clever use of stagecraft as performers sang in Icelandic costumes. Stage sets transitioned seamlessly while capturing the initial spark of a love story felt between hero and heroine in this concept in progress.
REDCAT New Original Works Festival runs through August 9, 2014.