The Satellite Collective made its debut at BAM Fisher last week-end bringing twenty seven different artists in dance, music, writing and visual arts together to collaborate on different pieces. Though the program extended itself to pieces other than dance, such as live music performance, a short film, and a monologue, I am interested in focusing on the dance segments of the show because of my background and the nature of this site.
The first dance all-female piece by Esme Boyce, Emergence, began with a projection of natural landscapes and birds evolving into one another. The dance commenced as the projection ceased and the four women in nude leotards moved in a progressive fashion, waiting for a previous dancer to finish a movement before initiating ones. The choreography was extremely line focused and built on geometric poses. It was a rather quiet dance, the dancers never veered into any emotional state or distress. It made me question their humanity at times. The climax came at the very end, when the initial images were projected over the dancers’ bodies that were clumped together, slowly shifting their structure in a Pilobolus-esque way. Viewing these images on their skin changed their natural shapes in a really unique way. Unfortunately, we only got a taste of it before the work ended, making me wish that the work had just existed in this state the entire time.
Manuel Vignoulle’s Rituals closed the show with a heart palpitating and highly athletic number. His work was the most successful collaboration of the evening as it featured video projection based on the movements on stage, and dancers echoing the music score at certain points in the work. Thus, the music and video were not only serving the dance and a true collaboration was in evidence. The video projection involved geometrical planes entirely based on mathematical formulas of what the performers were doing (for example one dancer joined by two others would turn in to 2+1 which would then be the basis for a shape projected). The effect of it was quite interesting as reinforced the urban theme and corporate-like costumes of the performers.
The cast of three male-female couples played the game of seduction, pushing each other’s limits via partnering that became more risky as the piece went on and sexual tension had reached its peak. The athleticism and speed of the performers’ movements made it difficult to retrace their steps but highlights of the work included extreme falls that were caught only centimeters from the floor by the neck, a sensual duet in which one of the male dancers “blindfolds” his female partner with the back of his sweater, indulging her into an extreme partnering trip where she goes from quick helpless movements to pleasure and complete surrender. The last, and one of the most remarkable, moments of the work consisted of the dancers standing in a line taking a breath from their efforts nonchalantly, after which the breaths were looped and the dance started again. It was refreshing to see the dancers just stand in the space after such momentum, this shift in the work gave it an edge and kept us on our toes, excited for what was more to come.
The high production quality of the performance was impressive and the intentions behind the evening were inspiring but it was evident that some collaborations were more successful than others, so much so that they were given a standing ovation by the audience. Overall, I appreciated the ambition of the project, which ultimately gave the audience access to rare commodities in modern performances such as live music, great costume design, and brilliant lighting.