Cedar Lake Installation 2012: Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet at Cedar Lake Theater
You enter into a cool dim interior, the sound of wind is heard, as if a gale rages outside. The space is cavernous, the stage sits in the center, a raised oblong rectangle that is slightly askew, in the center is a large sculpture. The sculpture is hard to explain but it reminds me of a deconstructed engine from a Jet’s wing, but just the frame, stripped of everything pertinent so only the bare essence is left. At one end is a large round shape this is encased in a wire mesh, then a series of thin bars that arch gracefully to another round shape, also encased in mesh, but it’s smaller.
At the far end of the space, a few feet from the stage are a pile of clothing, unceremoniously tossed in a large pile. Upon the edge of stage-left is a small mobile, it is more of a deconstructed light fixture. Again anything that would allow it to function as a light fixture of any sort has been stripped away so it seems exposed and venerable.
Approximately twenty to thirty large yellow lights, about a foot in circumference are randomly placed on the back wall of the space, they create a dim glow that shines right into your eyes when you look that away. They do not so much as illuminate but prohibits illumination, as if protecting unseen areas at that end of the stage, making one wonder what could possibility be lurking in the darkness.
Standing light poles, which are functional are scattered around the premise with more fabric tied or draped upon them. Small piles of debris, brightly colored pieces of cloth, empty bottles and old shoes lie in front of each light pole with a thin wire attached to them. Why… a mystery, but that is resolved later during the performance.
Navara Novy-Williams is carried on slowly, suspended she moves her legs as if she can walk on air. I see Oscar Ramos, he is all in black but his lips are an amazing turquoise, and then I notice the other dancers, everyone is in futuristic, tight-fitting black costumes and they all have a splash of turquoise somewhere, an eye painted or a streak down the cheek, each as individually placed as is each dancer’s costume is unique.
Several dancers appear from the crowd, we the audience, are standing, no-one is sitting. They approach the sculpture and then hang, transforming into mobiles of flesh and movement. The score is a pulsating compilation of electronic sound, it is itself seemingly alive, being driven by its own beat with its own agenda.
Everyone is scattered around the stage, they bend to pick something up, first is Matthew Rich, then others, it is a speck of dust, a found coin, it is never made clear. Jon Bond enters the stage and begins to move under the arch of the sculpture. His focus is so intense and his expression so strong it is hard not to take your eyes off of him. He swings and jerks his upper torso is if rubberized, his arms stretched wide then quickly pulled inward, he bends and stretches his leg to the heavens, your eyes are glued to him.
There is a lot of activity, running, stomping, sliding in all directions, the stage is controlled chaos, mania suppressed but barely. The dancers divide into two groups, these divide into smaller groups, an osmotic flow from one to another, each group unique in their movements. Some dancers break off and enter the audience, moving slowly, deliberately, in pairs or individually.
Ebony Williams cannot be missed on stage, she stands like an Amazonian princess, a power unto herself. Oscar Ramos moves with a delicious fluidity, his movement quality is like the flow of water, smooth, strong, sensual. Your eyes follow them and when they are on opposite sides of the stage it becomes an agonizing decision of which to watch, and you hope that they will soon be in the same proximity just to ease your dilemma for both are radiant lights of grace and suppleness.
Three women leave the stage, and climb upon a raised platform, it is about four feet off the floor, and we must turn around to watch them. They are enticing, a supple feminine energy that evolves into a single organism, flowing, shifting, and seamlessly gliding from one movement to the next.
The other dancers are scattered around the edges of the main stage, their only movement the bobbing of their heads back and forth, this soon builds to larger and larger movement, each individualized. It is not so much individual solos, but rather individualized interpretations to the stimuli around them. The music is pounding, the pulse felt in your bones, in your blood, consuming you with its intensity. Out of the corner of my eye I catch Matthew Rich whip out a pirouette of at least six or more turns.
Several dancers have climbed onto the sculpture and some recline in natural hollows in the curves and bends, emanating calmness, so contrary to the action around them. Throughout the work there is a dichotomy, passive-aggressive, hurried-unhurried, lyrical-saccadic, it is a statement, a reality, the ever-present yin-yang of the universe, the need for balance.
Soojin Choi runs from the audience at stage-left, she is wearing a harness attached to a wire, the same wire mentioned earlier that was attached to the small mound of debris before the light poles. She runs towards center-stage, towards the sculpture, not quite reaching it, when she runs, the debris attached to the wires rise and fall with her movements. For when she runs forward she if suddenly stopped, as if attached to a bungee cord, she can only reach so far before she is pulled back.
Ms. Novy-Williams and Acacia Schachte also run onto the stage, but from different places, different angles. They are wearing the same harness attached to the mobile of debris as is Ms. Choi. They are having their own struggles, just as Ms. Choi, running, being pulled back and their mobiles, a construction of empty bottles, old shoes and pieces of bright metallic or sequined cloth, moving almost constantly up and down, sometimes halting when the dancers stop.
The other dancers had exited the stage unnoticed, so focused were we on the three women and the rising and falling of the attached debris. But now they are back, Jubal Battisti is wearing a hooded shirt, the hood is pulled up so we can only see is his face shadowed. He radiates mystery and a masculine presence that cannot be denied, it pulses from his core like energy from lightning. He climbs the sculpture and stands, looking out, a high priest to a bizarre ritual of life.
Jon Bond hangs from the sculpture, allowing his body to swing with natural momentum, his feet not touching the floor. He drops and begins a slow movement that escalates as he circles the sculpture, he stops, falls to the floor, and crawls backwards, twisting himself to a standing position, he extends his leg to the front, relevés and undulates his body as if he has no spine.
I can go on and on, this was my second time seeing Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet in performance and my first time for an Installation. All I can say is that it was one of the most dynamic, edgy and innovated performances I have seen to date.
The Cedar Lake Installation 2012 was an exploration of energies and research into the flow of the human form and the rigidity of forces that can stops us. It is an inquiry into the dynamism between individuals, and an analysis of the feminine and masculine energies and how the two weave and adapt to create a universal balance. A study of light and dark, and how one can triumphant over the other only to be reversed within an instant, it is about the instability of the uncertain and continuity of change.
Benoit Swan-Pouffer is sheer genius and cannot be applauded enough; he has produced his own unique signature of movement and expression that is able to reach in and touch the soul. There are those that must be mentioned for their contributions that help create the whole. Clifton Taylor’s superb lighting created a place where light struggles with darkness. Mikael Karlsson’s original score and remixes took us on a journey that pushed and pulled on our emotions. The voice of Akim Funk Buddha is an instrument that has be experienced to believe; from him comes a haunting symphony of sound. Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet has shown that it is one of the foremost dance companies in the world and is allowing us to witness, again and again, why!
To the Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet I stand and shout Bravo, Brava, Doppia Bravo!
Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet performing “Violet Kid” Choreography by Hofesh Shechter