What makes the perfect team? How do individuals develop into a group? Taking its name from a theory by behavioral scientist William Schutz, ACW Dances’ The Interpersonal Underworld explores the dynamics of relationship building through beautiful and thoughtful modern dance. Trust, power, control, collaboration, harmony and more are explored and deconstructed in this finely wrought and highly intellectual performance.
The Interpersonal Underworld consists of two acts, Regression to the Mean and Optimal Distinctiveness. Both suites are collaboratively choreographed under the masterful guidance of ACW Dances founder Abigail Wallace. Working in the round, Wallace and her team make innovative use of The Shop space, obliterating any distinction between stage and audience. As a result, some patrons may end up very close to the performers, but the overall effect is absolutely sensational.
Structured as a presentation by a behavioral researcher (Matt Levitas), The Interpersonal Underworld blends acting and dance with absolutely seamless results. Both pieces are presented as the results of a corporate-sponsored experiment, demanding that the audience consider what the work means, not just what it looks like, an unusual but fascinating request. A question and answer session is incorporated into the “presentation,” so come ready to engage with the cast or be prepared to face a dreadful, awkward silence.
Both Regression to the Mean, a duet, and Optimal Distinctiveness, a quintet, were devised through a series of movement exercises on all facets of teamwork and discussions of Dr. Schutz’s theory of group dynamics, particularly its phases of Inclusion, Control, and Affection. (You can learn more on ACW Dances’ website.) Each dancer has a representative phrase speaking to some aspect of the group which they bring to the piece. The result is an intricate network of symbolic gestural patterns and acrobatic yet graceful lifts which really foreground the spirit of cooperation at the heart of The Interpersonal Underworld.
The Interpersonal Underworld
Conceived by Abigail Wallace
at The Shop – Fort Fringe
607 New York Ave NW
Washington, DC 20001
Details and tickets
Both dances are accompanied by a beautiful original score composed and performed by Mark Charles Smith. A moving solo composition for guitar, performed live, provided an especially memorable accompaniment to Regression to the Mean and energized the piece as only live music can.
Abigail Wallace and her company have crafted a truly innovative piece of dance in The Interpersonal Underworld. The work’s collaborative research-oriented foundation and total engagement with the performance space complement the dancers without overshadowing their grace and strong technique. As a result, The Interpersonal Underworld is not only a fascinating experiment in the narrative power of dance, but also a joy to watch.