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Fault Line Dancers Seek Refuge In The Air, Digital Art And Weekend Entertainment

May 14, 2015

The Perpetual Motion Dance Company’s annual spring show does not explore the implied violence of its title Fault Line, but rather the instability caused by a mobile foundation. The 11 dance pieces are strung together by a loose theme. In this way they may represent the confusion and diversity of responses to the recent increase in seismic activity close to home.  Fault Line is a modern and aerial dance show choreographed by company director Michelle Moeller, guest artist-in-residence Amy Querin and various company dancers.

Rapid transitions between pieces and the repetitive, industrial music of Kangding Ray provide a somewhat steady narrative for a collection of pieces that are otherwise seemingly unrelated. This owes to choreography by eight artists, a measure fully in-line with the company’s collaborative nature and history. Moeller and Amy Nevius founded Perpetual Motion in 2002. It grew to encompass aerial dance with Kim Kieffer, using silks, ropes and harnesses to suspend dancers in the air. Kieffer recently left the company, whose aerial courses are now taught by Emily Dawson. Kieffer choreographed Dawson’s solo “Vertical Severance,” which explores the strength and beauty of independence and the solemnity of individual creative practice.

Emily Dawson performs Kim Kieffer's aerial silk solo "Vertical Severance" just before "Convergent Boundary," the 8-dancer finale of Fault Line.
Credit Peter Dolese, Arts Council of Oklahoma City

Fault Line is a sensuous contemplation of bonding and separation. Overall, the choreography creates an atmosphere of urban chaos, of touch and go relationship, of the fine line between manipulation and interdependence. The company's eight participating dancers often pair in quick intimate interactions, supporting one another’s weight with delicacy and ease. They abruptly and robotically spin apart as if ordered by some internal seismoscope. One full-group movement has the feel of a humdrum, small-scale Busby Berkeley formation. However, another act features three dancers suspended in air by individual ropes, but physically connected like ever-changing cloud formations. They shift through a series of interwoven erotic poses with three earth-bound dancers. And so, moments of connection transform the dancers from harried isotopes or geometric cogs to peaceful, autonomous entities awaiting the next chaotic tremor.

“We are going through a lot of growth and change right now. We are really just now getting to know ourselves,” said Moeller, also a professor with the University of Central Oklahoma modern dance program. “I think if we water things down, if we aren’t honest with our practice, the audience will suffer.”

Moeller said this production pushes the company’s limitations and they are not afraid to take risks. One risk is the use of heavy wooden boxes as stage props. Though they are heavy to move about, the boxes allow dancers to climb to metaphoric safety or peril, emphasizing the shifting dependability of the ground. A second risk is the use of video. Unfortunately, the imagery projected onto the flat surfaces of the white boxes adds only color, not depth or meaning, to the otherwise black-and-white production. Videographer K. Edward Van Osdol’s cascading puzzle pieces and shards of digital shale distract from the performance’s moody and contemplative aesthetic.

Perpetual Motion Dance Company getting full use of their stage props.
Credit Peter Dolese, Arts Council of Oklahoma City

The video art contributes to the feeling that the show should be happening in a Brooklyn warehouse complete with DJs, VJs, shadows boxes and mimes. Technically Van Osdol is VJing, adjusting the visuals and their speed, aim, shape and size during the performance. He has worked with the dancers for three years, although this is their first time to use VJ software to project onto mobile set pieces. Interactive video performance and 3D projection mapping have limitless uses and I look forward to following the progression of collaborations between Van Osdol and Perpetual Motion.

Fault Line opens Friday, May 15 at 8:00 p.m. in the Oklahoma Contemporary Arts Center theater, and continues Saturday at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. The show lasts about 90 minutes with a 15-minute intermission. The company gives a private performance Thursday evening for about 100 students from Oklahoma City’s Prairie Dance Company, Metropolitan School of Dance and other local programs. Perpetual Motion will perform a condensed version of the same show with the Bell House Company during Tulsa Summer Stage June 25 and 26.

One dancer pulls another from the perilous tumult on the ground to the relative safety of her floating rig during Fault Line. Company dancers Katie Noble and Alana Murray will choreograph for the Oklahoma Contemporary Dance Festival July 24-25 in Oklahoma City.
Credit Peter Dolese, Arts Council of Oklahoma City

Also this weekend, film curator Michael Anderson presents Czech That Film Festival at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. It consists of five contemporary feature films To See the Sea, Krásno, Clownwise, Icing and Fair Play by three Czech directors screening Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoon.

Check our calendar of community events for more entertainment options this week, including Premiere on Film Row Friday night, the 39th Street Jazzy Fest Saturday afternoon, the Oklahoma Arts Council’s arts education forum Monday evening in Shawnee and Tuesday evening in Oklahoma City, and the album release party for Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys’ posthumous 12-track vinyl record Let’s Play Boys on Tuesday, May 19 at the Oklahoma History Center.

With so much to do, see, hear and experience in Central Oklahoma, the OneSix8 previews meaningful arts and entertainment events for KGOU’s dedicated audience. You may submit your own events to the community calendar for possible listing and on-air announcement. We’ll be back next Thursday with information on Memorial Day weekend events.

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