Blink and you miss it. This life goes roaring by, and on lesser days we end up standing dazed by the wayside. If you blinked more slowly – if you really shut your eyes, took a breath, and sent your passion right into the dark path of those fleeting minutes and seconds – could you slow down time? Or, stop it entirely?
Dia Dearstyne and Kjerstin Lysne are on a mission: to discover how to swim against the tide of life. And in the choreography of their short, concise movement piece they succeed in finding strong shape without paving over that sense of despair and melancholy which so clearly influences how their bodies move through space. The title of the show is nicely evocative of a teeter-tottering sense of modern self: that urge to make art on a bus, to get splashy when life is too dry, and to tap a well of creativity when you’re islanded by gray monotony. Who, on a never-ending freeway from point A to point B, wouldn’t crave some curvature?
Fortunately for audiences, our two dancers are nothing resembling straight lines. Through a colorful series of vignettes, most of which seems to have come together through contact improv, they wrap together and dissolve apart, toying with separation and a sense of solidity.
Without pushing any obvious intention, they evoke something warm-blooded together – childlike and unafraid – through simple meetings of fingers, wrists, and interlocking arms and legs. It’s a nice contrast to the other moments that feel, in effect, like they’ve grown up. Whereas before Dearstyne and Lysne were undressed to simple tanktops and underwear, now they’re more fully wrapped up – in clothes, yes, but also in their own thoughts, as modern commuters tend to be. A surprising literalism takes hold at moments, as some fleeting sequences of boarding a bus and noticing each other in a variety of first encounters come together through direct pantomime. Their movement is simple and less grand in style: one girl is withdrawn, defensive, and can’t connect, and the other seems more willing to get acquainted.
Behind them, video and sound whiz by throughout the performance: a rapidly changing landscape from the window of – you guessed it – a Greyhound. At moments, especially early on, the rolling rush of sound and energy is nearly overwhelming, and as the video speeds up the larger world framing the dance grows more abstract – a sort of Technicolor static born of ground-up highway signs, homes, concrete and asphalt, fields and far-flung lots. How can you be anywhere when you’re always moving?
Some sequences, perhaps, go on a little too long for what they are, and every now and then the girls pull visual tricks – blood capsules, for example, or a big pile of heart-shaped paper confetti – that are a little too obvious to resonate with us. But the passion runs strong throughout – paper sticks to sweaty skin, which is always fun – and the two dancers seem to enjoy each other, sharing not just body weight but some nice moments of eye contact inflected with romance, affection, and a sense of fear.
Dearstyne and Lysne don’t hit on anything especially momentous, but perhaps that’s the point. A movement piece on loneliness and stunted hope probably shouldn’t get too satisfying a resolution. They set out, as their marketing nicely articulates, to examine “the beauty and brokenness of internal landscapes.” If their style strikes you, then you’ll find yourself alongside them, attempting to pull open hidden emotions and shapes in a world that has to close off in order to move fast. Then the question becomes: can creativity survive? Is there room to hum inside a world that already hums so loudly without us?
(Snap)shots From a Greyhound Headed Home
Choreographed by Dia Dearstyne and Kjerstin Lysne
Directed by Melissa Bustamante
Reviewed by Hunter Styles
Running time: 30 minutes
Read all the reviews and check out the full Capital Fringe schedule here.
Did you see the show? What did you think?