A holon, coined by Arthur Koestler in his book The Ghost in the Machine (1967), is philosophical term for something that is simultaneously a whole and a part. For example, Holon! is one whole dance performance that is also one of Capital Fringe 2018’s eleven dance & physical theatre shows. So, that’s two strikes towards it being potentially unbearably pretentious. And yet, Area Woman’s Holon! is anything but! Rather, it is fun, daring, and fit for all audiences.
Audience members are immediately greeted at the door by the members of Area Woman, Claire Alrich, Sarah Greenbaum, and Sadie Leigh, who produced, devised, and perform the show. It’s a uniquely Fringe pleasure to get to chat with so much of the artistic process embodied by one of three people just before the show starts.
They introduce you to the fourth performer, Meg Lowey, who devised a soundtrack for the show and performs it live, using just her voice, an accordion, and a live looper. Don’t be nervous when she holds a microphone up to your mouth and asks for your name. As Area Woman promises, in case anyone seems uncertain, it will be fun.
closes July 29, 2018
Details and tickets
The invocating first dance demonstrates Lowey’s skills; as the music builds, so does the energy.. That music never stops being impressive for the whole 45-minute show. Watching Lowey build the soundscape right in front of you is like sitting at the chef’s table at Rose’s Luxury.
But the most important lesson from the invocation comes at the end, when the music stops, and the cast start slowly, awkwardly lumbering about, stuck nearly as statues without animating music. It’s a simple gag, but sets the tone for self-effacing anti-pretention that invites non-dance literate audience members to enjoy themselves. The cast is quick to break the fourth wall, including letting a set change take its time, with a posed awkward giggle and glance at the audience that can’t not win you over (though maybe it could just be a little bit faster!).
That self-effacing tone is so helpful for a show that asks for audience participation, as Holon! does. Audience members walk Leigh down the aisle at her wedding, hold up changing room walls for the whole cast, and catch Alrich when she falls off a table. Inviting the audience to help builds an air of trust and comradery that is put to great use in the show’s finale.
Holon! is also experimental and physically daring, to wow audiences who aren’t already pitching in. Leigh’s wedding gives way to the full cast dancing within the limited space of hula hoops. Space becomes even more limited when they dance from within their cloth changing rooms. Towards the end of the show, all three dancers stand atop a roughly 3-foot-by-3-foot table, alternatively taking on each other’s body weight while dancing.
From the moment you walk in the door, Holon! is charming and warm. With comedy and not a small amount of skill, Area Woman creates a space that will make you laugh, gasp, and, of course, applaud.
Holon! Devised, performed, and produced by Area Woman (Claire Alrich, Sarah Greenbaum, and Sadie Leigh) with Meg Lowey. Music devised and performed by MegLowey. Costumes by Claire Alrich. Stage management by Violet Lane-Ruckman. Lighting by Melanie Nehrkorn and Violet Lane-Ruckman. Set by Ben Levine. Presented at Capital Fringe 2018 . Reviewed by Marshall Bradshaw.