Saturday, October 22, 2011

Man Meets Machine

A sculpture comes to life in the North American premiere of Connected by the Australian dance company Chunky Move.

Kicking off the White Bird Uncaged series at Portland State University, Connected is a study in precision. Chunky Move choreographer Gideon Obarzanek collaborated with California sculptor Reuben Margolin to find the connection, quite literally, between dance and visual art.

At the centerpiece of Connected is a lightweight, kinetic sculpture containing dozens of waxy strings dangling from the ceiling and hooked to a loom anchored on the floor. The first third of the performance focuses on the assembly of the sculpture, with the company’s five dancers taking turns to add magnetic segments on the tip of each wire, eventually forming a vast checkerboard pattern. It’s a bewildering introduction that pays off in a big way: The dancers then take control of the sculpture by connecting the strings to their arms and legs, creating a ripple effect across the stage with each subtle move.

In the final third of Connected, the dancers unhook from the sculpture and transform into museum security guards, sharing random stories from the people who are observing you while you are observing art. (The quotes are taken from actual interviews for an aborted film project.) It’s a clever meta twist to close Chunky Move’s sly analysis of the construction—and deconstruction—of a work of art.

Chunky Move presents Connected 8 p.m. Oct. 22 at Portland State University’s Lincoln Hall, 1620 S.W. Park Ave. For tickets click here.

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