Steven Gunther (m46l9upd20120517121835/600 )
Visceral expressionism and a prodigious visual beauty coalesced in “Cold Dream Colour,” a dance-theater homage to seminal Irish artist Louis le Brocquy. It received its U.S. premiere at a sold-out performance Wednesday evening (continuing through Sunday).
An international gathering of dance artists, designers and musicians calling themselves the Arcane Collective animated the REDCAT performance box through meditatively unreeling movement and a soundscape of plaintive guitar strumming, alternating with drums and bells (from U2’s The Edge and composer Paul Chavez). Jagged dancing of crinkled limbs and crumpled bodies suggested both the world’s crushing weight and humankind’s great power to survive.
Well-targeted lighting effects (Morleigh Steinberg and Tony Mulinex) and glowing white sheeting allowed the dancers to re-create the disembodied limbs and floating head portraits that comprise the most famous aspects of Le Brocquy’s vast and diverse oeuvre. At other times, giant shadows evoked a canvas filled with more bodies than the seven dancers’.
As three-dimensional artist salon, then, “Cold Dream Colour” was a striking visual success for its three choreographers -- Steinberg, a modern dancer and filmmaker; Oguri, the Japanese-born Angeleno whose work derives from butoh; and site-specific artist Liz Roche, from Ireland. But the group was also after a danced expression of Le Brocquy’s spirit and vitality. That proved more elusive to reproduce, particularly for viewers who were less familiar with the Irish painter, illustrator and designer, who died at age 95 just three weeks ago.
The choreographers have melded their individual sensibilities here into a singular voice that dominated the work. Oguri, as always, seemed more equal than the rest as performer, with his dexterity and control, seeming to extend to a manipulation of time itself. It was a virtuoso performance.
He was joined, however, by masterful colleagues, including Boaz Barkan, Sherwood Chen, Joyce Lu, Dani Lunn, plus Steinberg and her sister Roxanne. A duet for Morleigh (who is married to The Edge) alongside Roxanne, who is Oguri’s wife, gave the final Family section of the piece an added poignancy. Yes, this piece is a family collective as much as an artistic one, and given the high level of all involved, that was one of its greatest pleasures.
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“Cold Dream Colour,” Arcane Collective, 8:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday, REDCAT, 631 W. 2nd St., Los Angeles. $16-$25. (213) 237-2800 or www.redcat.org