Light Moves: Trip the Light Fantastic [Review]

Despite my snobbish predisposition to scoff at any art form deemed “modern” or “interpretive,” I rather enjoyed myself at the opening night of Margaret Jenkins Dance Company’s newest production Light Moves. The show takes place this weekend only at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) Novellus Theater.

Light Moves, L-R: Heidi Schweiker, Joseph Copley, Margaret Cromwell; Photo Credit: Mark Palmer Artwork: Naomie Kremer, Graphic Design: Gino Squadrito, Lasercom

The press tickets were very close to the stage and right behind the music pit… swanky! The simultaneous play of dance, poetry, music and animated images was set up in an organized way, but I still felt overwhelmed. When I left the theater I felt tired and one thought spun through my mind: “sensory overload.”

Fusing these moving elements of art was one of the objectives of “Light Moves.” Amidst the big LCD backdrop and the strips of screen hanging down from the ceiling projecting dancing lights and patterns, my eyes were drawn to the dancers. Just the sheer humanity of their muscles and controlled but graceful movements amazed me. Each dancer had a powerfully built athletic form, but the performers differed in their shapes and sizes, reiterating another beautiful aspect of the human body.

Maybe it’s because I’ve never been so close to performers or really even attended a live dance production, but watching these dancers gave me a sense of renewed awe for the human body as an art form.

Light Moves by Margaret Jenkins Dance Company. Preview at JCCSF. Photo courtesy of Rapt Productions.

Spoken poetry, written by Michael Palmer, occurred with some of the words written onto the LCD banners. It was hard for me to try and listen to the words while imbibing the rest of the performance; the simultaneous and varied stimuli juggled the senses.

At times the music (composed by Paul Dresher) was dissonant, creating an anxious swell in my stomach as the dancers writhed and spun in organized chaos; I was being submerged into the world of the theater. My innate reaction to liken each dance to real-world occurrences stumbled my complete immersion with the moving universe on the stage. The dances, the lights and the sounds, which were ” inspired by the naturally occurring cycles of light,” stumped me. I couldn’t tell if a dance was supposed to be dusk, morning, noon, twilight, or night. This is no fault of the artistic director, set and animation designer or the lighting designer (Margaret Jenkins, Naomie Kremer and Jack Carpenter, respectively) who did a wonderful job putting everything together. This is just my opinion as a traditional art lover who felt lost in a whirlwind of lights.

Likened to my experiences in modern art museums, I will not know what a big red dot on a canvas is supposed to be unless I read the title (and even then, I may or may not agree). In a sense, “Light Moves” was a moving red dot with the stage as its canvas.

There were a couple costume changes, as the dancers went from powder blue clothes to teal ones, designed by Mary Domenico, with a select few of the eight performers reverting into the initial powder blue uniforms. Even with that, I was trying to find meaning, and felt like I failed. However, it was the small details and decisions like these that really heightened my senses while watching the show.

I guess the perfect way to describe my experience is with a line from one of the spoken poems: “I heard what I saw and I saw what I heard.”

If you like to just go for a ride and enjoy the beauty of art media fusing, this show is for you. Like I said, I enjoyed the performance and appreciated the exposure to interpretive and modern art. Check it out before it’s gone!

RELATED LINKS

Yerba Buena Center of the Arts (YBCA) Official Website

Margaret Jenkins Dance Company Official Website

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About MJ
MJ is a girl who prefers Buster Posey to Peter Parker.

2 Responses to Light Moves: Trip the Light Fantastic [Review]

  1. Pingback: Left Coast Leaning @ YBCA [Review] | eventseekr blog

  2. Pingback: Left Coast Leaning @ YBCA [Review] « eventseekr

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