AUDIENCE REVIEW: Mimi Garrard’s A Night of Live Dance and Video
Mimi Garrard Company
This past Sunday, the Mimi Garrard Dance Company presented a live dance and video experience for an intimate audience at New York Live Arts. Active in combining dance and video since 2001, Garrard presents three live pieces and two video interludes that she choreographed, shot and edited.
Co-choreographed by Austin Selden to music by Jonathan Melville Pratt, the show opens with the premiere of “Money”. Crouched in a rectangular spotlight in the upstage, left corner, Selden slowly rises to his feet and looks transfixed on something beyond sight. Circles permeate the screen behind him and morph into kaleidoscopic shapes filled with the watchful eye of Abraham Lincoln on the five dollar bill. Selden- dressed like a cartoon thief, in a striped shirt, slacks and suspenders- ambles towards a briefcase in the downstage right corner. He moves deliberately towards the briefcase while the rectangle of light expands to follow his movements. The briefcase — now within grasp — pulls him through space, and controls his body in large, frantic movements. The money images continue to rotate and morph in the background. He resumes his transfixed gaze into the wings and walks off stage with the briefcase.
Selden returns, sans briefcase, with his gaze down and moves hands in a way that mimics someone looking at their phone. Selden moves through the space, grips his suspenders and gives the audience a suspicious look before he returns to his original, crouched position. Images of money fade in and out on the screen throughout. Selden leaves the stage and the video interlude “Money Part 3” begins. A globe of money spins in the background while Selden creeps by and rubs his hands together with an incredulous look. The titles, the robber-esque costume, the briefcase’s control over Selden, and the sly gestures hint at the pieces’ possible critique of the greed, power, and desire for wealth that overwhelms our capitalist society.
The premiere of “Junk Journey” takes the stage next. The screen lights up with images of a packed junkyard while Selden enters from stage right dressed in a trench coat. Selden takes careful steps across the stage and shrugs his shoulders while images of the depot on the screen blur in and out. Selden continues to walk, shrug, shake his head “no” and drop to the floor for the remainder of the piece.
The movements continue into the video interlude “Junk 2021” with videos of Selden layered over the images of waste. The video backdrops and gestures — the shake of Selden’s “no” and his indifferent shrugs — in “Junk Journey” and “Junk 2021” portray another possible societal dilemma; the waste and pollution crisis and the confusing issue of accountability that comes with it.
“Cosmic Man” ends the show with a different tone than the prior pieces and transports the audience to another world. Fog billows out of the wings and laser-like lights dart onto the screen. Selden enters in an all white ensemble and begins to perform larger, more physical and angular movements than before. He runs around the stage with a peculiar, upright posture and pauses periodically to look at the audience. The backdrop fades to one single star that twinkles then blacks out, and the performance ends. The whole piece appears futuristic in nature, and Selden’s erect, awkward movements mimic an alien trying to be human for the first time.
All five pieces display both Garrard’s talent at combining dance and video in a way that compliments one another rather than conflicts and Selden’s facility to tell a story through nuanced movement. Garrard’s ability to add an additional, visual aspect to a dance performance that adds to the overall notion of the piece and does not distract from it is something to commend. Overall, the performance provides the audience with a contemporary experience of live dance and video that both pleases the eye and stimulates the mind.
Photo © Mimi Garrard Dance Company