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Monday, October 1, 2012

The Movement: A New Perspective at The Space Upstairs

Posted By on Mon, Oct 1, 2012 at 4:29 AM

Continuum Dance Theater’s production The Movement: A New Perspective is billed as “an autobiographical examination of the distinction between our public lives and the artist that we are beneath the costumes.” This might be shortened to “dancing about dancing." But The Movement is postmodern dance made highly accessible.

So accessible in fact that all the dancers are onstage as the audience arrives — greeting them, stretching, chatting amongst themselves — and remain there during the interval, adjusting costumes and reapplying make-up.

Everything about the show is intimate. Continuum is an up-and-coming concert jazz dance company, composed primarily of local artists. An all-female cast of six perform this two-act piece, choreographed by founder and artistic director Sarah Parker as well as the dancers themselves.

The first act, “Work,” evokes familiar tropes of office labor — subway rides, shirts and ties, and the rat race. Industrial soundscapes play over a collage of servile, repetitive movements and competitive duets. This is high-stress work. Dancers adopt attitudes of frustration and leap so aggressively they send light bulbs hanging from the ceiling of The Space Upstairs swaying before a striking shirt-shredding conclusion.

To those unfamiliar with The Pillow Project’s venue, The Space Upstairs is as nebulous as its name. A 4,000-square-foot canvas used by Continuum to create a 360-degree show; audience members dotting sofas and barstools throughout. It’s suitable for the company that take as much pleasure in dancing as it does deconstructing it.

Their second act, “L’effect,” is a playful pandering to this cabaret-style set up. In a series of theatrical jazz routines, every movement is exaggerated through a layer of frou frou and tat — flowers, feathers and lipstick. But the manic smiles of the performers grow unsettling as music-box chimes creep into the music and the dances take on a sinister circus-clown bend.

It ends with props being cleared by the dancers, who then retreat to share seats with the audience and gaze at the melancholy shambles of vanity tables and hairspray cans now occupying center stage.

These DIY elements belie the professionalism of Continuum’s performance. Following the show, Parker thanks the audience: “People can feel so strongly about buying local produce and other products, but it’s not the same with the arts.” Her production’s powerful mix of innovation, intimacy and artistic expertise is ample proof of why dance is Kickstarter’s most successful category.

The Movement: A New Perspective continues for two more shows on Oct. 5 and 6. Tickets are available here.

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