Sometimes a performance tries to do too much. Too many ideas, too many techniques, too many emotions are corralled together. It gets messy. I think this is what happened in bobbevy’s This is how we disappear, which has some gorgeous segments but overall feels incoherent. From PICA’s TBA brochure:
“This is how we disappear examines the complexity, frailty, and weight of human relationships in contrast with the fluid simplicity of the passage of time.”
So, that's a vague statement. It’s also...a lot.
Bobbevy are a local dance company, comprised of choreographer Suniti Dernovsek and visual artist David Stein. The piece is performed by two dancers. Based on their movements, one guesses that the two are meant to be a couple. Sometimes their movements are sensual (they roll their head along one another’s arms, longingly). Other times they’re aloof (the male circles around the female, austerely, as she stutters across the floor like a marionette).
Its TBA appearance is the premiere of This is how we disappear's full-length performance. I saw an iteration of it at Conduit’s Dance+ Festival last year—it actually felt more refined to me then, even though bobbevy have been workshopping the piece quite a bit since. My basic qualm with this iteration of the show is that the aesthetics clash, in particular the costuming and the video projections. The costuming was distracting; the two dancers wore cream-colored tops, made from what looked like felt, which were too stiff and rigid. They looked like armor—like breastplates—which conflicted with the sweeping movements of the choreography. As far as the video projections: at one point the dancers are whimsically winding through a forest (which was a projected animation). At another point, a screen drops down in front of the dancers’ faces; the screen has neon backgrounds and different illustrated animals flashing across it. The animals (which kinda looked like they were made on an old Apple computer a la Oregon Trail), stand in for the dancers’ heads. Meanwhile the score plugs along with aggressive digital bleeps and bloops.
All this being said, there are still some excellent segments. At one point, the dancers are on the floor, putting their body together in different shapes, and then lying still, with a projection of abstract patterns scrolling across their bodies. The pattern projection transforms the couple into one abstract form—it's a really strong visual.
For whatever maybe-missteps, ultimately it’s great to see what a local act like bobbevy is doing in comparison to all of the international dance brought in by the TBA Festival this year. Bobbevy will do three more performance of This is how we disappear. Catch them at BodyVox tonight or Sunday at 8:30pm, and on Monday at 6:30pm.
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