Talking about Big Data has become so popular as to be cliché. Going into Mine/Field from Glade Dance Collective, the worry was that this performance would be all jargon and no substance. But Glade Dance Collective exceeds expectations, delivering a performance that is surprisingly intimate and relevant while shedding new light on Internet research.
The key was in the theme of secrets, which exploited the pseudo-anonymous nature of the Web gracefully. Mine/Field asked the audience for data, or input, to be written on little cards. Those were their secrets, and the dancers seamlessly wove these into their performance over time. The questions that Glade Dance Collective were asking involved how privacy overlaps with research and security, and especially how an individual online blends into a larger mass.
The choreography by the entire Glade Dance Collective underscored a key ensemble dynamic. The group improvises excellently, with individual dancers playing off of one another’s movements effectively, creating a unified illusion while each individual moved separately. Technically, Glade Dance Collective had a few stumbles or wobbles, but not enough to derail the fascinating themes that their show put across.
Choreography: Glade Dance Collective
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A most interesting moment explored shaming culture on the Internet and vulnerability. In an age where an unknown figure like Justine Sacco can be turned into a villain by millions of people on social media, this is a vital topic to discuss. When the dancers isolated one woman and slapped literal labels on her, the scene was visually striking, invoking the “lynch mob” attitude that comes with mass open communication. Another interesting moment involved trust, as when dancers tried to physically support one another.
The concept of Mine/Field is not particularly new, but the sophisticated ways in which Glade Dance Collective articulated them were unique. For example, the company used plastic Easter Eggs to represent bits of data, and experimented with space and rhythm when those bits of data are dropped and snatched up.
A contemporary topic that feels authentic. Mine/Field allows Internet-obsessed audiences to get their fix while still getting a breath of fresh air on an often stale topic.