Altered Archives is not a show as much as it is an experience. It is an immersion into human expression and the liaison of the mind unto itself. It is emotion in motion.
Towers of crumpled paper, which the dancers use to signify tangible memories, flank an open, empty black stage. The first dancer emerges holding a red piece of paper, a memory she can feel, that has a shape that she can hold in her hands. Running the length of the back of the stage is a screen, which glows with images of various flowing patterns: the billowing of smoke, the shape of fire, and brushstrokes of a painting nearing completion. But the screen quickly becomes obsolete as the real piece emerges. Six young women, clad in what appeared to be tattered navy blue shawls, glided onto the stage and captured the room’s collective attention and held it for the duration.
A voiceover softly utters memories are malleable. That redefining our past can change our future. The dance that follows is a visual representation and interpretive motion of this concept of memory, set to gorgeous music that is both compelling and contemplative. They move with fluidity, control, and effortless choreography, at times spread about the stage, other times entangled amongst each other.
To say this is “dancing” seems to undermine the power of the performance. The cadence is hypnotic to the point that I stopped viewing the dancers as people, but more as perennial beings lost in an endless metamorphosis.
Choreography: Stephanie York Dorrycott
Composers: Imogen Jennifer Heap, Sascha Ring, Mika Vainio, IIpo Valsanen and Dustin O’Halloran
Director: Lindsay Benson Garrett
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There is no empirical plot or pattern in which to follow, the point is to take in the movement and let it move through you. The composition is both symmetrical and asymmetrical, set to a soft violin at one point, and to an intensive tribal tune at another. Making use of the entire space, the dancers command the stage with movements that are less melodic and more acrobatic. The constant movement is mesmerizing, erotic, and at times violent, but always under control and always calculated with former and future moves. There is at once both unity and individuality, with all the dancers working together in tandem creating shapes and configurations with their bodies. But, at the same time, every dancer has a moment to dominate the stage, each with a unique array of maneuvers.
Altered Archives will mean different things to different people, but the undeniable skill and tact with which Brittany Alness, Sarah Christopherson, Elysia Greene, Kayli Hueston, Sarah Mawyer, Mary Potts and Laura Sniegowski perform their art is breathtaking and inspiring.