Australia’s Chunky Move dance company has earned a reputation for producing a distinct yet unpredictable brand of genre-defying performance. Their work constantly seeks to redefine what contemporary dance is or can be, by creating works for the stage, off-site, new-media and installations.
Teaming up with Californian sculptor, Reuben Margolin, who is known for making large-scale moving structures, Chunky Move’s artistic director and choreographer Gideon Obarzanek has created a new work entitled "Connected," which will be presented next week at the Luckman Performing Arts Center for one night only.
Beginning with simple movements and hundreds of tiny pieces, the dancers build their performance while they construct the sculpture in real time. During the performance, these basic elements and simple physical connections quickly evolve into complex structures and relationships.
Margolin met Obarzanek at a festival in 2009. Margolin recalls, “He was talking about dance, I was talking about waves. We both talked about movement. I immediately loved his work and felt that he was reaching deep into a realm of meaning to create his dance pieces. And I was simply struck by how dynamic and expressive the human figure can be.“
Soon, the two artists were talking about how to collaborate, combining kinetic sculpture and dancers.
“We both wanted to do something more challenging, and to somehow have the sculpture reflect the movement of the dancers,” said Margolin. “I came to think of the sculpture as a musical instrument, where my job was to give it the most expressive potential possible before Gideon figured out how to play it, give it meaning, and somehow incorporate it into a performance.“
Reuben’s sculpture for "Connected" is 35' x 10' x 20' high and made of paper, magnets, string, steel, a wooden ring, 88 pulleys and a motor, that is powered by people – the athletic and agile dancers’ bodies twisting and hurtling through space.
The interactive dance begins with the dancers building the structure on stage and setting it into motion.
Obarzanek explains, “The choreography is concerned with uncontrolled forces and less ordered particles being arranged into paths and structures. Once constructed, the dancers connect themselves with fine strings to the sculpture. As they move, the suspended machine is animated and becomes an alternative representation of the dance. As the scene develops, it also begins to suggest mood and emotion, representing the possibility of something that is felt but is otherwise invisible.”
When the sculpture moves autonomously after the dancers have left, it becomes a distinct contemporary artwork hanging in a gallery space. This sends the theatrical piece in a new direction, as the dancers now are characters, acting as gallery guards who patrol and watch over the space, discussing the value of art and how it affects different people. Their tasks and actions become more and more playful, until they are again transformed into moving symmetrical shapes like the sculpture above.
“All gods are homemade, and it is we who pull their strings, and so, give them the power to pull ours.” --Aldous Huxley
Chunky Move will be performing “Connected” on Saturday, March 17, 8 p.m.-10 p.m. at the Luckman Fine Arts Complex, 5151 State University Dr., Los Angeles, CA. Tickets are $24-50, and are available at http://www.ticketmaster.com/Chunky-Move-tickets/artist/1051862.