Wild Space Dance Company disappoints with abstract performance

Kristi Ruff

The Wild Space Dance Company performed “Heads Up” last Saturday, Jan. 23, in Stansbury Theatre. The Wild Space Dance Company is a company-in-residence at Lawrence and performs here annually.
Last year, their performance “Snow” was quite moving and evocative in its communication of the winter elements that we Wisconsinites know so well, so my expectations for this year’s performance were high.
While I am not an expert by any means of modern dance, I was still disappointed when “Heads Up” failed to meet my expectations.
The company performed four routines: a solo called “Glacial Melt,” a duet called “All Sorts of Things” and two all-company routines, “By Accident and Necessity” and “Trace Elements.”
While all of the dancers were clearly talented at their craft, the routines themselves were so abstract that they became inaccessible to the audience, and hence failed to convey their meaning.
The first solo was an interesting blend of linear, angular movements with a very minimalistic, acoustic-indie style accompaniment. The performer, Michelle DiMeo, is a beautiful, graceful dancer, as evidenced by the few elegant moves she performed; however that grace was lost in the awkwardly jerky movements choreographed into her routine.
“All Sorts of Things” was even more dissatisfying. The accompaniment was a track of suggestively themed old-time movie dialogue between two lovers, broken up occasionally by a few minutes of what one could only questionably call music, though I feel more inclined to call it “silence interrupted by a few notes now and then.”
While I can appreciate the creative idea and artistic use of silence, as well as the abstraction behind the dance, it was just too long and disconnected a routine that, when set to such random dialogue, merely served to confuse the audience.
The third piece was performed to a backdrop of moving still photography by Tom Bamberger, and was accompanied by still more minimalistic indie music. While continuing with the theme of strangeness, this piece was actually my favorite.
The piece was performed by the entire troupe, and incorporated an interesting variety of visual levels. The majority of the time the performers were moving differently from each other, creating a much more visually stimulating performance, although I must still admit that I was still unable to glean any meaning from it.
This routine also made interesting use of shadow, as the various silhouettes of the performers were illuminated against the photographic backdrop, evoking the interesting concept of a photographic negative version of a mirror.
Whether it was due to the failure of the performance to meet expectations, the drowsiness-inducing quality of the slow indie music, or the inaccessibility of the routines to reach the audience and make the intended impact, a significantly smaller audience returned after intermission for the final piece.
That final piece, “Trace Elements,” was an homage to Alfred Hitchcock movies, accompanied by a much more satisfying blend of various film scores.
Due to its obvious theme of “murder and terror,” said sophomore Elianna Thorne, it was “much less abstract … although at one point the men started throwing shoes and I still don’t understand why.”
It is too bad that so many people left before this piece, because it was much more interesting and accessible than the others.