Dans La Lune

“I have a real love for special-effects pioneers in film,” choreographer/dancer/filmmaker Ashley Horn tells us. “[When I was younger,] I saw Dans La Lune, which was one of the first silent films to ever have special effects in it, and it really stuck with me.”

In the newly created evening-length program incorporating dance, film and art Dans La Lune, Horn echoes many of the qualities of the original film. The production, presented as part of the Rice University Dancer-in-Residence program, is making its world premiere.

At the time of its release, the 1902 film by Georges Méliès was a sensation. Considered the earliest example of science fiction, the short showed a group of men traveling to the moon in a rocket and exploring the lunar surface. (The scene in which the rocket lands in the Man in the Moon’s eye became one of cinema’s most iconic moments.) It was awe-inspiring.

It was that sense of awe that Horn hoped to capture in her own project. “You sit down and you see these rocket ships that are being blasted out into space and there’s all this smoke and then aliens pop out of them, and it was just mind-boggling. What was that like for the audience? That’s where this [Dans La Lune] came from.”

The beginning of the program is a structured improvisation inside the visual art installation in the theater’s gallery. From there the performance moves to a theater-in-the-round configuration. Dans La Lune features eight dancers and costumes by Horn (“I’m working on these black-and-white costumes, which is really hard for me because I love color!”).

8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Dance Theater in the Rice University Recreation and Wellness Center, 6100 Main. For information, visit recreation.rice.edu/dance/dar. $10.
Dec. 5-6, 8 p.m., 2014

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Olivia Flores Alvarez