Kinematic Dance Project Challenges Perceptions, Re-discovers Self

Written by Mariko Nagashima
Kinematic Dance Project presented an evening of dance at Open Flight Studio. Both a sensory exploration and an engaging dance performance, Aliza Rudavsky’s Not all right is not all wrong compels the audience to question how they perceive their surroundings and even themselves. The experience, because it is decidedly more than just a performance, begins in the cramped hallway of Open Flight Studio in the University District. Led in small groups to the performance space, the audience is asked to put on blindfolds before being guided to their seats by the members of the Kinematic Dance Project. What follows is an infantilizing journey awakening the audiences’ senses by introducing sound, touch, scent, and even taste by various means. Guided to move their head, loosen their spine, and eventually walk and run around the room, participants are encouraged to reflect on how they react to external stimuli and why they react the way they do. Is it our reactions that make us who we are, or are we ourselves because we react a certain way? The experience conjures philosophical questions such as these, which are further explored in the remainder of the performance.

The traditional performance section of the work begins with the five dancers, blindfolded, slowly undulating their spines and sensing the space with their torsos. Having just been blindfolded, the audience has an intimate understanding of this process, making it all the more fascinating to watch. When the dancers remove their masks, peering dazedly outward as if reborn, their minimal movements expand but the sense of exploration remains internalized, with little acknowledgement of the other dancers. Repeated running steps and brief but frenzied hand motions, add color to the somewhat minimalistic choreography. Intensity mounts when three dancers run insistently, flocking between the other two dancers and circling behind the audience.
The running comes to an abrupt halt against the back wall of the studio. Their first encounter with an external object, the dancers use the wall as a sounding board for their new physicality. Testing their limits with a series of slides, inversions, and other acrobatics, they evoke black music notes weaving along the white page of the wall. Here, Rudavsky’s choreography is full of surprises; shapes bloom unexpectedly and while several phrases are repeated, they never fail to arrest attention.
In the next section, Morgan Nutt layers herself with clothing handed to her by the other dancers. Marshmallowed in multiple shirts, sweaters, pants, and even a polka-dotted party dress, Nutt’s ensuing solo explores the effect of others’ expectations. Literally weighed down by these imposed suppositions, the movement feels lethargic and unfulfilled, lines blurred by the extra layers. When she finally strips away the layers and repeats the movement uninhibited, her body arcs freely through the whirling turns, a gorgeously continuous line of energy.
The process of self-realization continues with a solo by Chris McCallister as he interacts with a shadow figure projected onto the back wall. Here, the choreography explores the concept of self delusions and how to control rather than be controlled by them through McCallister’s manipulations of the shadow person. He seems to puppet it by a string one moment and then send it whirling across the wall the next. Though there are several moments of impeccable timing that help crystallize the concept, McCallister doesn’t always connect with the shadow person and technical glitches make this portion a bit rougher than the rest.
In the final section, blindfolded dancers Emma Klein and Violette Tucker are guided through an intricate duet by Sruti Desai. They explore the idea of self through reacting to another sentient being, both with and without sight. A bit on the lengthy side since the dancers­—tentative and stilted while blindfolded—must be placed in each new position, this section regains momentum when the blindfolds are removed and the movement becomes continuous. The entire performance was enhanced by the live musical accompaniment of Annie Ford and Matt Manges. Presenting a fantastic blend of everything from violin to accordion to marimba, their music was the perfect backdrop for the experience.
Brimming with interesting concepts Not all right is not all wrong sets the mind and the senses astir. The highly enjoyable interactive portion lends an added weight to the rest of the show. Not only does the viewer have a greater frame of reference, they are able to see their own musings on self and perception realized through the choreography, making for fairly remarkable experience.
Performances continue through Sunday, July 17, at Open Flight Studio. For more information and to purchase tickets please visit:  http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/182964