NobleMotion Dance Explores the Light in Spitting Ether

The setup:

Since 2009, NobleMotion has established itself as a company built on athleticism, explosiveness and a keen exploration of technology and contemporary culture in relation to dance. The company's main interests are on full display in its newest piece, Spitting Ether: A Reality Bending Dance. A full-on collaboration with resident lighting designer David J Deveau, Ether is one cool dance concert.

The execution:

In much the same way that light is used in photography to capture striking images, the creative team at NobleMotion has created a plethora of jaw-dropping visuals. In Luxate, the ensemble dances in the dark, lighting devices affixed to palms. There is just enough light to see the hint of an extended leg or the swirl of a turn, but the frenzy of hidden movement is easily imagined. Windows and Doors is another highlight. In one memorable sequence, a light show is cast onto the dancers and renders them gyrating, pulsating holograms.

Perhaps the most ravishing moment in the concert can be found in Lorelei's whisper. A projector creates a green wall of light that the dancers touch and reach through, a body of souls curious about what's on the other side. Some push through, others timidly test the water. Profiles dip into the green haze like swans rising into the air. It's a lovely picture, one that is made grandiose by the accompanying operatic score. (Sit on the left side of the theater to get the full effect.)

Ether's few hiccups have more to do with its subject matter than its movement. The first piece, Landing Light, features a trio of compelling solos which reveal dancers tormented by technological overload. One spirals and turns while a camera captures her movements and projects them back onto her while another falls and leaps amidst an entanglement of tripods; exhausted and fearful, she attempts to enclose herself in the metal easels before being dragged away by two menacing doctors.

What Landing Light suggests is intriguing, that perhaps our dependency on technology and our need to be stars of our own one-man-show is something akin to being insane. But this assertion is never fully investigated, and after the unmistakable beauty of Lorelei's whisper, the unsettling imagery of lights chasing a writhing body behind hospital curtains becomes a mere afterthought.

The verdict:

I would say that Spitting Ether does not bend reality as much as it questions it. For better or for worse, there is no escaping technology; after all, the gorgeous shapes of the imagination brought to life onstage would not have been possible without it. Technology is very much the twenty-first century reality, but, as NobleMotion suggests, one that is more complicated than a mere click of a mouse.

Spitting Ether: A Reality Bending Dance runs through September 8 at Barnevelder Movement/Arts Complex, 2201 Preston. For information, call 832-627-9663 or visit the company Web site.

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