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Of Paradox and Principles

Of Paradox and Principles

Published on April 26, 2012
Ian Douglas

zoe | juniper "A Crack in Everything" at New York Live Arts

A Crack in Everything at New York Live Arts

Choreography: Zoe Scofield
Production/Technical Direction: Juniper Shuey
Sound Design: Matt Starritt
Lighting Design: Robert Aguilar
Costume Design: Erik Andor
Composer: Greg Haines
Dancers: Christiana Axelsen, Diana Deaver, Raja Feather Kelly, Anna Schon, Zoe Scofield

April 4th-April 7th 2012 at New York Live Arts

© Cory Nakasue for The Dance Enthusiast with photos by Ian Douglas, Courtesy of New York Live Arts

The new installation/performance from  zoe | juniper, A Crack in Everything, investigates the slashes, hyphens, and all other manner of divide/chasm-bridge in the realm of space|time and art|performance. Their intrepid journey into the void of experience and its representation literally brings lightning flashes of clarity to whatever exists on either side of any divide. Lightning flashes courtesy of Robert Aguilar create some visually spectacular moments in this piece that not only dazzle the eye, but also create an ambiguous sense of time that challenges the audience to locate past, present, and future.

Photo © Ian Douglas

Newtonian determinism suggests that the location and speed of an entity, once its course is set in motion, runs that course inalterably. Edward Lorenz's alternative "butterfly effect" theory suggests that tiny tweaks in an entity's location and speed lead to energetic disturbances that can create multiple and wildly different outcomes. Juniper Shuey's use of screens and scrims of varying transparency--everything from transparent Plexiglas to video projection screens, create divisions not only of space, but of time and theory.

Gilded dancers performed Zoe Scofield’s malfunctioning robot choreography with a precision that was exhausting and exhaustive, but well paced; with dancers often reflecting, projecting, or ghosting alternate versions of themselves and each other. When the viewer wasn't navigating the permutations of time, they got to experience an alternate red thread of continuity. With a thread firmly planted in her mouth, Anna Schon mechanically jerked her tiny frame across stage leaving a red trail of time behind her. The thread of time is also represented by Scofield tracing her own feline form with a red marker on a clear scrim. Both dancers in one way or another are tethered to their trajectory.

Photo © Ian Douglas

Fascinating dancers, all of them in their own way, unison sequences were particularly interesting because of their differences: Anna Schon: small, muscular, moves at the speed of light with laser like specificity, and Raja Feather Kelly: long, lean, and elegant, the super model of the group was exploited for a back bend that lasts for days. I am sorry to have to lump Zoe Scofield, Christiana Axelsen, and Diana Deaver together, but I see them as the sacrificial lambs that had to take one for the team in an effort to pull off all of those mirror image and ghosting effects. They are all about the same size, wearing identical costumes with their hair obscured by painted-on gold leaf. For some reason the usual dancer line up provided by New York Live Arts was not available.

I did recognize Christiana Axelsen from her fine work with Kawamura the 3rd and wasn’t sure if it was her or Diana Deaver that performed a most elegant solo in juxtaposition to a nude Scofield and Kelly barking at each other like dogs. A highlight of the evening for me, but not for the row of tourists in front of me who immediately left the theater.

Was the work especially challenging? Not really. Was it especially deep? Not particularly. The power of this piece lies in its execution and its seamless construction of visual design, movement, sound, and performance. It was as if everyone involved in the piece shared one set of eyes trained on everything that separates us.

Photo © Ian Douglas


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