Chiasm. Or,The Body of Two Faces is an interpretive and interactive dance performance that was brought to The Forge, a versatile creative studio, by No)One Art House and New York-based choreographer Danielle Russo. In addition to these major contributors, fashion designer PHLEMUNS and projection artist Steve Rosa, help evoke the simple but mystical, raw feeling for the event.
In an interview with Los Angeles Entertainment News the show’s project manager, Jordan McHenry, questioned, “How can we make these elements and these mediums fit together to create an exciting show that’s still of high quality and appeals to audiences that don’t get to experience dance very much, but also audiences that don’t want to see dance on a proscenium-based stage?”
The complex elements of dance, set, music and overall meaning mixed perfectly with the audience to create a real-time emotional and lyrical revelation. When asked what allowed this show to stand out among other multidisciplinary performances, McHenry answered,
“It’s going to be right up in your face, 360…which is what makes it relevant and current. Because we’re not just on a stage, you can incorporate other elements. You are the contributor yourself, you just being there is what changes the dynamics of the performer.
After waiting outside for the doors to open, two dancers appeared and guided us into the building. It was dimly lit and included a cherry blossom tree, a large, curved white wall, a couch and a small room upstairs with red lights. The dancers guided us by the arm and placed us in different areas of the room. Two women sat on the couch, their faces blocked by a large mirror.
One lyrical dancer made her way to the front of the audience and moved slowly in front of a projected image of herself on the white wall. The dancer’s movement didn’t cease until the very end when all the dancers lay still on the floor.
When asked about the main idea behind the different dances, Danielle Russo responded,
“It was based on The Self Theory, so ideas of the early developmental stages of the psychological self.” Russo then went into more detail about The Self Theory that inspired this production.
With each dance, the “Original Self, the Virtual Self, the Grandiose Self” is seen, as well as, “ideas of passive and active memory and how we develop empathy and frustration at the early stages of development. From there we start to identify socially and through that we begin to identify further within the social environment that fences us in as adults,” (Russo).
The cast utilized both levels of the venue and allowed audience members to roam freely. From the upper-level of the performance room, the dancers looked like pinballs, bouncing off of each other, flying around the room gracefully. They reacted to one another just as they did the audience; there was no separation of dancer and bystander. Random audience members were often pulled from their place along the sides of the room and used in the dance.
One of the founders and curators of No)One Art House, Sabrina Johnson, spoke on the subject of filling in as a dancer for the show,
“My solo was really intimate with a stranger (an audience member), and we were doing this tug-of-war, and to do that with someone I don’t know…you just have to let go. You have to be present and in the moment, open and willing to get into it.”
Utilizing the elements of somewhat improvised dance, props, music and lighting, the dancers were able to break down the wall between themselves and the audience; these features allowed us to step inside the Self Theory completely.