During the past weekend, the Houston dance community and friends were invited to examine the true meaning of forgiveness. Staged at the Spacetaker Gallery at Fresh Arts, Frame Dance Productions' newest work, The Black Space, can only be described as a personal experience. The interactive exhibit featured three dancers at different stations in the space and video footage of company members in the act of asking for forgiveness, and in turn either giving it or denying it.
Before entering the space, visitors were given magnetized words so that they could place them at the station that best fit its description. Some of the words that were available to use included "manipulator," "combatant," "casualty," "appeaser" and "sufferer." These are fighting words in the literal sense, yet, they are used to describe what should be a simple human process. Case in point: forgiveness never is.
The exhibit also made use of a special app feature which could be utilized to unlock additional videos, thereby extending the scope of the project outside the Spacetaker walls.
By adding a virtual component, Frame Dance Productions makes a universal appeal in its meditation of an uncomfortable human process. While the video footage, wordplay and app feature certainly contributed to the overall investigation of forgiveness, the most potent piece of the installation was the movement itself. Each dancer inhabited a different role in the progression, but the essential patterns included sharp contractions of the torso and expansive releases of the sternum. One dancer repeatedly fell to the floor, hurt and shaken and unsure if getting back up was worth the effort. The point is clear, that the trial of forgiveness can a physical struggle as well.
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The beauty of The Black Space is that it does not handle its topic in broad strokes, but manages a high degree of specificity so that individual audience members are able to recognize themselves in the performance. A dancer shakes in agitation, another stares into space dazed and confused while a third tries to put herself in another's skin only to find that it is impossible for her to do so.
We have all tried to forgive and forget and at times failed; The Black Space is a comfort in showing that in this particular failure, we are not alone.
The Black Space took place last weekend at the Spacetaker Gallery at Fresh Arts.