by Magdalena Mikrut
The magic of gold and dreamy movements is how we may encapsulate the presentation of American group Liss Fain Dance on Friday, 4th July. Their performance comprised three works: Line Between Night and Day, River at the end of the land and Looking, looking, the latter a world premiere.
Liss Fain Dance, formed in 1988 in Boston, has been located in San Francisco with nine dancers, since 1990 . Their everyday work includes lectures on dance and choreographic topics, as well as performance. A breakthrough for the Company happened in 2006, when it played in the Edinbourgh Fringe Festival, to acclaim from the critics. This success lead to their invitation to tour across Eastern Europe, and during the journey, the artists came up with many intriguing ideas, which were shown in Looking, Looking.
Friday’s show initiated a lively discussion. The first work, Line Between Night and Day, was danced to a section of Quartet for the end of time by Olivier Messiaen, written during his stay in concentration camp in 1940, in Zgorzelec. A dispute arose among the audience members over the technique presented by Liss Fain Dance: some regarded it as modern ballet, while others found it more radical.
The company website points out that two of the seven dancers havea special role - the personification of biblical parents- Adam and Eve, although I must confess that didn't see this . Dramatic changes of the music were symbols of the tragic events of the Second World War, but these themes did not emerge strongly in the choreography.
The second work, River at the end of the land was inspired by a poem of Wallace Stevens - Of Mere Being, written in 1954:
Of Mere Being
The palm at the end of the mind,
Beyond the last thought, rises
In the bronze distance.
A gold-feathered bird
Sings in the palm, without human meaning,
Without human feeling, a foreign song.
You know then that it is not the reason
That makes us happy or unhappy.
The bird sings. Its feathers shine.
The palm stands on the edge of space.
The wind moves slowly in the branches.
The bird’s fire-fangled feathers dangle down.
The music, also based on this poem, was composed by Hamza El Din, and the dance work is dedicated to the composer who died shortly after creating the score.
During the performance, what really attracted my attention was the copper coloured costumes designed by James Meyer. The dancers, using perpetuum mobile movements, told a story of death and existence, in a style that reminded me of Bollywood productions, because of the elements of Asian culture used by the choreographer. Kali- Hindu goddess of time and death came to mind. Existence is the main concept of the piece, which opened and closed with a woman in a pearl costume, diffusing the light, a symbol of cyclical power of the World. Nevertheless, I was disappointed that the choreography did not use the various sources to greater effect - we saw decorative movement, with little resonance.
Looking, looking, ending the show of Liss Fain Dance, is a new production, set to Bartok‘s Concerto for Viola, and inspired by the group’s journey across Eastern Europe in September 2007, and emotions evoked by the losses of the Second World War and communism.
The dancers were divided into three groups according to the colours of their costumes.
In many cultures different colours have various symbolic meanings with seven primary colours, which are symbols of moderation, simple emotions or child’s fragility. The average person uses the basic colours of the rainbow, while for painters or chemists there are only three: yellow, red and blue, also the colours used here for the costumes. In the final section with the „ yellows” leaving the scene, we can find an allusion to the Sun replaced by majestic Night- with the dancers in blue. According to some I spoke to Looking, looking was the most successful of the three on display, with modern steps generating more interesting choreography, but with many unison sections, I would have preferred more variety.
After the show I heard an interesting discussion:
- In this show, there was some social-politics message...
- Why do you think so?
- Because of colours, it must have a meaning!
Everyone can find their own response to the message of the Lisa Fain Dance performance.
Last edited by Stuart Sweeney on Wed Jul 09, 2008 10:13 am, edited 1 time in total.