Arts Runoff: A Curious Invasion/Middlebury

Arts Runoff is a Middblog series of performance reviews, originally written by JP Allen ’11. Emily Jacke ‘12.5 has taken over the series for the fall!

Summary: A centerpiece of this weekend’s ongoing Clifford Symposium on Creativity & Collaboration, A Curious Invasion is a collaboration between the PearsonWidrig DanceTheatre, an award winning US dance company, and the Dance Company of Middlebury. The site-specific work involves performances by students, members of the PearsonWidrig company and live music by David Schulman. Dancers explore the architecture of the CFA inside and out, as audience members follow them through the building. Cameos by Pieter Broucke, Alex Draper and Dana Yeaton.

Good: Smart choreography, some stunning visual pictures, and some really tender and intriguing moments. The live music was simple and lovely, costumes well done with colors well-chosen to make the dancers stand out against various backgrounds. The choreography really explored the spaces and got me to notice things about the building I’d never noticed or thought about before, in incredibly creative and sometimes moving ways, including a really splendid and nearly harrowing descent from the windows of the dance theatre and the sharp contrast of two dancers tracing their fingers along the enormous grey wall on the outside of the Musem.

Bad: It’s a little weird; the usual formalities that tell us it’s “appropriate” for people to start performing don’t apply – there isn’t a consistently clear performance space, the lighting is just what is usually in the CFA… so it felt a little bit awkward at first, although definitely amusing. Being part of a moving audience always poses a problem: where there isn’t always a clear separation from the dancing space and the audience space it can make for a cluttered view; there’s a heightened amount of distraction from the piece as you negotiate the people craning their necks around you. But as long as you stay near the front, it’s fine. Some of the sections of the piece also felt a little bit long, and repetitive, though the payoff of staying through to see the end once the show went outside were well worth the opening section.

Broad: The site-specific dance work I’ve seen has generally suffered most from “cluttered and confused audience syndrome,” and this piece surprised and delighted me in that the work engaged me enough that I forgot about the audience around me. The piece was also well-designed in directing the eye of the audience to where it belongs, so I never felt confused about where I was going and was able to focus on the piece. Also there is something cool about being as aware of the people around me as I was – you get a sense of how the piece is affecting other people. I spent a good deal of time next to a woman and her young daughter who was quietly asking some of the most insightful questions I’ve heard. Girl: “What does that wall feel like?” Mother: “Well, it’s metal…” Girl: “Then why are they hitting themselves on it?” In general I’m glad I got to see this.

If you are looking for an intriguing study break, I definitely recommend stopping by the CFA. It’s free, so you don’t have anything to lose, the show is less than an hour.

Contextual Rating:  The last shows are Saturday at 12:30 PM and 4:30 PM in the CFA Lobby.

 If you already have something planned this afternoon/ evening…

…have fun.  See a different show next week.

…do it.  See this show.

…put it off.  See A Curious Invasion.

…skip it. See this show.

Emily Jacke ‘12.5 is a Theatre Major with a focus in Costume Design from Jaffrey, NH. 


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