Written by Carla María Negrete Martínez
In the piece A Crack in Everything, a two-sectioned wall made of plastic-covered glass with red tape at the bottom and black fabric on top divides On the Boards’ Merrill Wright Mainstage Theater at a quarters’ depth.
|Dancers in A Crack in Everything.
Photo by Christoper Duggan
Lights come up with two dancers bursting into view behind the wall, wearing nude colored unitards pasted with flaking gold leaf and with ethereal golden masks framing their faces. They lunge and slide their legs through wide stances. Simultaneously, a video projects their bodies retrograding the entire phrase. Blackout.
A female dancer appears in front of the glass wall, pounding a flat object on the floor in time with Greg Haines’ music beats. She is now wearing a Greco-Roman armor style gown over the unitard. Her virtual representation appears mirrored beside her as if in dialog with a memory of her past. A flash of light blinds the eye and reveals a different moment in time. Another female dancer enters walking backward with a red cord seemingly attached to her lower lip. As she crosses the length of the stage a gray hooded figure with red glitter is revealed holding the other end of the cord, making it appear as if her tongue is being stretched across the whole stage. The hooded figure seems to represent the controlling power that ties tongues and directs the world’s pathways. Scene.
The black curtain, which helps divide the space, rolls up as Raja Kelly moves frantically, switching his weight from one foot to the other and joins a duet. They suddenly pause their frenzy in time with Haines’ clock-like ticking while a soloist is pulled, as if through a magnet, toward the hooded figure. Meanwhile, Scofield is drawing on the glass wall with a red paint pen. As she exits, another video retrograde of dancing bodies appears, imprinting in space and time.
|Raja Kelly in A Crack in Everything.
Photo by Christopher Duggan
The glass wall flies up, the layers fall off, the crack in the audience’s controlled memories? A double image of women being pulled by their tongues re-appears and clears. Two white chairs are left on stage with dancers walking toward them in small, robotic steps. Kelly and Scofield are left facing each other behind the chairs. They sit down, slowly taking off their unitards, while Christiana Axelson dances beside them. Naked, Kelly and Scofield bark at each other furiously, juxtaposing the previous controlled ritual leading up to it. Scofield seems to be commenting on humans’ sexual animalistic nature. Silence.
An image of white, morphing smoke is projected onto the backdrop. Kelly stares at it and leaves, re-entering downstage as the image changes into what looks like sand. Scofield, Axelsen, Diana Deaver, and Anna Schon, enter wearing the unitards again. Their silhouettes are projected onto the backdrop, creating the illusion of shadows dancing on a beach. They moved as if electric impulse locomoted their bodies across the stage from stage right to left. Kelly stops each dancer’s momentum by picking them up and placing them back where they came from. The passing of time is inevitable and retaining them in space is useless. The last dancer he carries back struggles the most: the light at the end of the tunnel—exiting the space—seemed so close. Yet her yearning for independence against control proves exquisite. Her climbing over Kelly’s body is less about frustration than her eased liquid metamorphosis in between his arms.
The last section of the piece reveals the dual tongue-tied image again. When Haine’s music reaches emotional climax, the red tongue of the dancer in the back is stretched out fully, until her inability to speak cuts her tongue of. She falls to the floor.
A Crack in Everything will continue this weekend, December 3–4 at 8 pm. Tickets may still be available through On the Boards.