Preview: zoe|juniper’s A Crack in Everything

Written by Victoria Jacobs

(Photo: Zoe Scofield, Raja Kelly and Christiana Axelsen of zoe|juniper.
©2010 Christopher Duggan)
Local duo zoe|juniper, Zoe Scofield and Juniper Shuey, have investigated their latest work during two years of residencies all over the world—the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire, Stella Adler’s in New York, Jacob’s Pillow in Massachusetts, Budapest, New Zealand—the list goes on. To top it off, Scofield received the prestigous Princess Grace award for choreographers, along with another hometown hero Olivier Wevers of Whim W’him (see SeattleDance’s conversation with these awardees. It’s a proud moment for Seattle dance enthusiasts. “Seattle offers opportunities that no other city does—it’s an incubator, a nurturer,” Scofield says.

The harvest of these two years of hard work is A Crack in Everything, a stark, splintered, hour-long exploration of time combining Scofield’s unique choreography with Shuey’s videography and art direction. ACIE is inspired by the Oresteia, a Greek trilogy, and themes of time, revenge, and “how we get caught in the cycles of things.”
The preview in Velocity’s Founders Studio-Theater offered glimpses into the strikingly wrought work. Films from an installation version of the piece (to be fully expanded in a 14,000 square foot space in Houston in 2012) showed the corps of dancers pasted with flaking gold leaf and dressed in gowns that resembled medieval chainmail and armor. They turned and marched in tight formation, gazing straight ahead and gesturing in unison. Another film subtly projected on the white studio curtain depicted a ghostly outline of a slowly moving dancer.
Later, Shuey drew back the curtain to reveal clear plastic with red tape covering the mirror on the wall. Scofield stretched and contorted in front of the mirror, tracing her own changing outline with a red paint pen; as she finished one outline and moved, the figure gained multiple arms and heads, then began to overlap as she moved across the space. Scofield and Shuey developed this section in one of their intensive residencies. It captures the ephemerality of  movement by pinning it to drawn form; painted side by side on the wall, the different moments now occur simultaneously; Scofield’s moving figure dances across the wall in the outlined images.”Within a linear, time-based work, we wanted to blow apart time,” she explained. The same section featured Raja Kelly dancing an impressive solo of spine arches and surprising contractions, his joints conspiring in unusual combinations and his eyes glaring like a nocturnal animal snared in a flashlight. Scofield’s movement vocabulary is highly stylized and Kelly transforms his body into using her corners and undulating gangly-ness with easy.
The second vignette showcased New York-based Cristiana Axelson, who has worked with Scofield since 2005, dancing with focus and clarity in front of a video projection of rolling gray clouds à la Seattle winter. Axelson stayed in a small area of the stage, switching in and out of rotation and lying on the floor, and she finished in a grand pliébefore sinking one flexed knee to the ground. The dance was controlled and understated compared to the drama of the accompanying classical music.
zoe|juniper have a unique and complementary collaborative relationship. Shuey shoots the films but Scofield edits them together. Scofield makes the movement, while Shuey creates the space with video, sound, and set. Although the preview was tech-light, the directors and dancers promise the final show is 50-50 dance and design. Shuey’s fingerprints will be everywhere in how the work occupies the space. “I don’t want to define the edges, but rather let them blend out into the world,” he says after the preview. “That way, you’re occupying it more. You involve the audience. You make the space be filled up by your imagination as much as what’s really there.”
Much more is in store at the Seattle premiere of A Crack in Everything December 1–4 at On the Boards. Buy tickets at ontheboards.org.