Let’s start with the basics. The Lynden Sculpture Garden is beautiful at dusk. The light gives the stands of trees an ethereal flatness. The colors of a sunset peek out between the woods to the west. The sculptures—the collection of Harry and Peg Bradley—are all the more evocative when lit up against the darkness. Deborah […]
Let’s start with the basics. The Lynden Sculpture Garden is beautiful at dusk. The light gives the stands of trees an ethereal flatness. The colors of a sunset peek out between the woods to the west. The sculptures—the collection of Harry and Peg Bradley—are all the more evocative when lit up against the darkness.
Deborah Loewen, Artistic Director of Wild Space Dance Company, obviously knew this, and purposefully scheduled the company’s site-specific performance to start just before sunset, despite the challenges of guiding a couple hundred people around in the dark.
But this is no mere walk in the park. Inspired by the setting, Loewen has orchestrated an experience that lives up to both the simplicity and aspirations of its title: “A Place for Everything.”
The 90-minute show features fourteen short and discreet “vignettes” around the garden. Some are inspired by pieces of sculpture, and others by natural environments. And they truly do embrace the ethos of “Everything” from the title.
It’s framed by an audacious act. Jade Jablonski walks along the rim of the garden’s large pond, steam rising from the water, and then slips in to the water and the algaed primordial ooze that floats over it. It’s both primal and graceful, but the movement treats the water as a sculptural object itself—the surface hiding half of the dancer’s body as she gently tosses and turns. The algae clings to her arms like a second skin being cast off, the waves ripple out into the pond, the light of day wanes.
But this is only a frame (in the final piece, she returns, accompanied by flaming pyres floating in the water). The questions posed by the garden are too various for Loewen to limit herself to themes of birth and death, even though the lyrical ceremony of Josh Schmidt’s music (played by a brass quintet that wandered the garden with the audience) inflected the piece with autumnal colors.
But life is more than beginnings and ends. So in between Jablonski’s water ballet there is a world of ideas and life: Desire—a red-dressed coquette (Lauren Hafner Addison) emerges from a weathered façade worthy of an Andrew Wyeth painting. She preens, casting sexy invitations via gestures from ballet, burlesque and even a touch of Flamenco—then disappears again through the doorway surrounded by an eerie light.
The Self: two dancers in simple blue dresses (Monica Rodero and Liz Herbst Fransee) sit on the opposite shore of a pond. They move in unison, and the reflections in the water double them into a quartet. It’s the story of Narcissus, times two. And watching from a distance, we feel powerless to intervene.
The Sublime: Single dancers (Rodero and Fransee again) share the space with each of Clement Meadmore’s massive curlicues of Corten steel. They explore the mass, the spaces in-between, the charged space around them.
Love: A couple moves from the idyllic space of a grove of trees into a space charged by the energy and imbalances of Mark Di Suvero’s “Lovers.” Playful frolic becomes angled manipulation and precarious balance.
Throughout the event, Loewen engages the environment with a restless sense of exploration. There’s music in the bang of steel, crunch of gravel underfoot, and splash of water. In the penultimate event, all the dancers mass on a small area at the edge of a grand vista—like a panoramic landscape, woods and water stretch out across a graying horizon, a cluster of bright energy in a charged corner.
Is it too much to suggest that Loewen wants to turn the Lynden into a place that really does contain everything: birth, death, love, desire, myth, beauty, truth, spirit and mortality. What is this place if not a cemetery, a memorial park of creation where imaginations are manifest in forms that withstand the elements and live on past their authors? Turning dancers loose amidst living nature and cold steel can’t help suggest a sense of the present caressing (or crashing into) the eternal. Anyway, that’s what I was thinking about on a chilly Thursday evening. And a memorable creation like “A Place for Everything” will have me thinking about it for quite a while.
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