Diavolo Dance Theater captivates with its large interactive sets and daring movement.
Dallas — The state-of-the-art Wyly Theatre was the ideal setting for Diavolo Dance Theater’s performance Friday night, presented by TITAS in association with AT&T Performing Arts Center.
The Wyly’s industrial air complemented Artistic Director Jacques Heim’s massive props, hydraulic stage and acrobatic movement especially in the first piece Fearful Symmetries (2010).
In Fearful Symmetries the performers were described as abstract factory workers who had just discovered a 6-foot tall cube. We watched intently as the 10 dancers explored different shapes and ways of moving as they took the cube apart. The music by John Adams portrayed the rhythm of industry with Gershwin undertones as performers worked in assembly lines and fabricated structures in a 1920s setting.
Instead of using specific counts and traditional dance steps the dancers relied heavily on their environment to tell them how to move. The cube was constantly being taken apart and reconfigured; so if a piece was coming at one of the performers he or she would either do a tuck jump over it or roll under it. And if gaps appeared in the structure they would slide through it or use it as a resting place as the structure was moved again.
They also explored movement off the ground. When the music climaxed a dancer would climb on top of one of the cube pieces and swan-dive off, landing gracefully in their partner’s arms. With so much happening at once these moments always took you by surprise.
The hydraulic stage was another pleasant surprise. All of a sudden the stage was lifted at a sharp angle as the dancers secured four piece of the cube onto it. Then four performers would spin the cube pieces around before tagging in another four performers. Mind you, these pieces are taller than most of the performers, weighing more than 100 pounds each.
The performers got to show off their modern and ballet backgrounds in the second piece Trajectoire (Section 1: 1999, Section 2: 2001) to ethereal music by Nathan Wang. The dancers leaned, jumped and turned on top of a curved stage that continuously swayed from side to side. The swaying stage took a simple thing like standing in second position and morphed it into something new and exciting. They explored all kinds of movement on this rocking apparatus including jumping, rolling, sliding and running as well as partnering. The performers also moved around, under and even in the structure once again altering our perception.
Dancers and performers should always be ready to take risks, and Diavolo Dance Theater shows us what happens when dancers explore the world around them and try new things.
This review was originally posted on TheaterJones.com.