WRITHING INTO REVELATION
Alas, it’s over – and way too soon. Luna Negra Dance Theater’s 2013 spring program celebrated works by two contemporary Spanish choreographers: guest artist Fernando Hernando Magadan and Luna Negra company member Mónica Cervantes. Last night’s one-time-only performance at the Harris Theatre in Millennium Park, Made in Spain, confirms the troupe’s reputation for raising the temperature, charting the culture’s velocity and literally moving with the times.
The most complex offering, Magadan’s “Naked Ape,” begins with dancers seemingly stuck in slow-motion or fast-forward time frames, caught in a kind of undulating aerobics fomented by a scientist administering shock treatments into an empty, lighted clothes horse. Accompanied by an eerie rumbling and an eclectic score that mostly favors Bach, the five dancers engage or indulge – it’s hard to tell – in frenzied break-out dances that are both primal and techno, a case of jazz investigation on steroids. An experiment in more senses than one, this graphic piece, premiered by Luna Negra two years ago, still defies easy explanation, not such a bad thing in the abstract.
More satisfying is company member Cervantes’ “Presente,” a highly disciplined piece of controlled anarchy that juxtaposes classical and, well, crazy dance styles in a kind of convulsive therapy. Framed by white floor panels and a hovering hour glass, this meditation on the malleability of time is both out of control and choreographed within an inch of each minute, propelled by a doctored version of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and frenetic with contagious fervor. It’s also the perfect showcase for the dancers’ non-negotiable youth and energy. That, you can be sure, is the style, if not also the content.
A world premiere, Magadan’s “Royal Road” employed the artistry of the Turtle Island String Quartet, playing “Variations on My Father’s Footsteps” and “Ashwattha.” To tango tempi, the eight dancers cavorted around a dangling structure festooned with sheets of music. Others were carefully laid across the floor, as if keys to some discovery to be set to steps. Magadan definitely creates a tale of sound and fury signifying… something. But the stage pictures, however dynamically thrust at us by leaping limbs and tangled torsos, don’t quite create a group portrait. Sometimes sheer strangeness can defeat a pursuit of truth.
photos by Cheryl Mann
Made in Spain
Luna Negra Dance Theater at the Harris Theater
played on March 9, 2013
for upcoming Luna Negra events, visit http://www.lunanegra.org
for info on this and other Chicago Theater, visit http://www.TheatreinChicago.com