posted by Kirsten Collins
I wanted so badly for Everywhere to be good. For it to be refreshing in its simple and precise utterance of the “rhythms of modern life.” The stage was set with rows and rows of carefully lined-up black 4×4 (?) posts. The back wall of the theater was exposed, and the expansiveness and manufactured nature of the space was particularly emphasized. The set-up suggested a factory, or company of soldiers, but with the potential energy of an extensive trail of dominoes. Very precarious.
When a dancer started crossing the stage, sometimes carrying a post or two, sometimes making an adjustment to the arrangement, I thought I was in for a treat. “Yes! This is going to be great! I love it already!” An expectation for a subtle humor was created – one odd post is placed out of line from the rest and I can’t help but crack a smile. Like that greeting card of a penguin sporting a Hawaiian shirt in the midst of his boring penguin peers: “You’re one in a million. Congratulations.”
But then it got really boring. Three other dancers were integrated into the space. They moved following the grid of the rows, contorting their arms, and emulating a factory in both rhythm and pattern of movement. The dancers coasted (down the conveyor belt), doing some sort of crazy manipulation, then coasted again. Sometimes two dancers would move in unison, not interacting with each other. The dancers were impressively precise in their movements, and my attention was held for a bit simply watching for someone to slip-up, knock over a post with their elbow and unleash the domino effect, destroying the whole space. And when it did happen, it was intentional. The crash was a necessary, expected and thus dissatisfying payoff.
Other highlights included ways in which the posts were rearranged, demonstrating how to achieve drastic changes in space with simple shifting of lines; construction of a staircase out of rubble; and a cool lighting shift at about the halfway point.
There is a classic psychology study used to illustrate a principle of perception. A kitten is raised in a vertical world, I think by living from birth in a box painted with vertical stripes. This is the only environment it knows for the first months of its life. Then, the kitten is let out of the box and allowed to play with the psychologist. The psychologist waves a feather on a stick up and down, and the kitten pounces on the feather (as kittens are known to do). It is cute. Then, the clever psychologist waves the feather side to side, and the kitten just sits. It is sad. The kitten can’t see the feather move side to side, because it can only perceive what fits in the kitten’s vertical world, and the kitten never learns to see horizontal movement. The experiment is then repeated with a horizontal world instead, with predictable results.
Though Everywhere did not illustrate this principal of perception, it did make me think: Maybe, the audience is the kitten? Is Wally Cardona the kitten? The psychologist? No, there is only a casual relationship between Everywhere and this vague memory from PSY 100. Everywhere was, however, a nice illustration of the Conservation of Mass. The space was reconfigured, destroyed, and rebuilt while retaining a constant number of “building blocks.”
Ethel was understated, but lovely (by the way). I was saddened that I didn’t see them last year.
Though Everywhere offered components I could appreciate, and some imagery that will definitely stick with me beyond the festival, I felt myself reaching too hard to connect to something, anything, to stay engaged. And then I gave up.