3 minutes reading time (615 words)

Ligia Lewis' minor matter at REDCAT

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Beyond The 805
The dance starts and ends with black, the absence or complete absorption of visible light. What happens in between is red; as the second installation of a three part performance, minor matter is a fervent outpouring of joy giving life to rage, rage to joy.
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Jonathan Gonzalez, Tiran Willemse and Ligia Lewis , Photo Credit Steve Gunther
Fog obfuscates the dancers as french renaissance chansons play. As I attempt to identify this world I am stopped when one of the three dancers tells me “I would like to turn you inside out and step inside your skin.” This line ramifies and mutates throughout: tropes assembling and disassembling, elements of the black box theater reproducing themselves into a new knowing. Theatrics pointing to past and future situate us in the now. Later, when I leave the theater, I’ve thought theater so many times the sound of it is all that remains. It stays inside out.
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Jonathan Gonzalez, Tiran Willemse and Ligia Lewis , Photo Credit Steve Gunther
A spotlight follows a dancer’s hand. The light beams onto the upstage wall to make shadows. The spotlight moves down the face and onto the body. The person remains anonynmous as limbs are shadowed out of context. Interplay of dark and light permit the grey parts of the piece: amorphous constructs, distinct gestures muddied through the fog, facial expressions that shift as soon as they emerge.
A stepping sequence leads the dancers to survey the entire space. They transcend the limits that the black box prescribes them. Radical use of space and liberation of the voice transmogrify into a celebration of black expression. We witness their joy turn to anger. It peaks, and tiny grooves settle back into the body. This feeling repeats in layers across the piece; a small rumble is always present, and even after the apex, it persists.
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A dancer mentions how distant we are from the stars and next the dancers form constellations on the floor. Their words and their actions are arbitrary-- scooting towards one another while whispering unintelligible phrases, eager to make some shape with their bodies. They are motivated by a task unknown to the audience. Their grunts and breath take them to one another, eventually rolling with limbs interlocked. The linear constellations evolve into a tumbleweed, working together to cover the space. It is not the end that matters, but the mere act of doing; the tumbleweed matters as much as the constellation.
Task-based work continues as dancers scale the architecture of the space. Clothing unfolds from their bodies as they climb on top of one another. Simultaneously they surrend to the group and control the group. Tennis shoes press into vertebrae and faces into crotches, all while maintaining urgency in scaling the black box theater. As soon as they are careful, they are reckless. The various modes that the tasks inhabit remind me of the multitudes possible in ensemble work. It is not one or the other but everything at once.
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A dancer shouts “black”, the lights go out and the dance ends in darkness. In the darkness, there is formlessness, a lingering on sentient matter.
“minor matter” was choreographed by Ligia Lewis and performed by Ligia Lewis, Jonathan Gonazalez, and Tiran Willemse. Minor Matter was performed at REDCAT January 12-14 as a part of the Pacific Standard Time Festival: Live Art Los Angeles, which highlights influential artists from Latin America and Southern California in a wide-ranging program that activates multiple locations throughout Los Angeles.
Images courtesy of Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater, REDCAT, Photo Credit: Steve Gunther.
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