Friday night, Art Attack swung by The Photobooth on Montrose for the first of a four-part series of installation dance pieces entitled "Framed!" by Frame Dance Productions. A small crowd formed outside the door, anxiously awaiting the removal of a large, white wall that blocked the entranceway. When the wall slid away, five dancers, dressed in black, were revealed. Two additional white walls formed a barrier of sorts between the standing-room-only audience and dancers.
The dancers' movements ebbed and flowed from convulsive, electrifying spasms to more traditional modern to violent reactions between dancers. The walls, which were moved into different configurations throughout the piece, played an interesting role. At times the walls felt confining to both audience and dancer, other times freeing. The dancers used the walls as props, trying to open them via invisible doorknobs; their bodies were magnetically stuck against them as if they were riding the Gravitron ride at a carnival. Briefly, the walls hid the dancers, forcing the audience to walk around to get a better view. There were moments when the dancers, the walls and the entire mood felt uncomfortable, but perhaps that was the point.
Modern dance can be incredibly perplexing. In the most of confounding dances, it feels as if there is a modern dance "language" and the audience is expected to know how to translate. Similar phrases are repeated in various choreographers' work, and we assume that they must "mean" something, but that meaning is often lost. Frame Dance's work gave off this feeling Friday night; trying to "define" the work proved fruitless. That being said, the manner in which Frame presented the piece, encompassing their audience, was an emotional and unique experience, to say the least.
Friday night's performance was a way to workshop new choreography that will eventually become a completed dance sometime in May. For the next four months, Frame Dance will be building and rebuilding upon this dance until they are satisfied with the conclusion. So what we saw Friday may be completely different at next month's installation. It's an intriguing concept and a way to include and engage the audience in a different way.
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Frame Dance Production will perform live dance installations on February 24, March 30 and April 27 each at 8 p.m. at The Photobooth on Montrose. 2710 Montrose. All performances are free.