|Art Bridgman and Myrna Packer presented their "Trilogy" at the ICA.|
Choreographers Art Bridgman and Myrna Packer don't so much mix dance with video as meld the two to forge a whole new compound. They posit onstage a kind of hall of endless mirrors, in which the reflections are as much theirs as they are of central truths about ourselves. In the "Trilogy" of pieces that CrashArts presented at the ICA last night, the questions raised ran the gamut: What separates the self from the other - and art from arbitrary motion? How do our memories affect our everyday actions? And simply, how, mechanically speaking, does a partner lift his mate?
The answers came not from the team of Bridgman/Packer alone but from their intense collaboration with filmmakers Peter Bobrow and Jim Monroe.
"Memory Bank" (2007), a Boston premiere with live music by percussionist Glen Velez, examines how the past intersects with the present. Video time-delay software allows the performers' images to be recorded and then projected back at delayed intervals. Hence Packer, lanky and sinuous, pushes a leg open and her image, projected on one of three screens, follows suit a moment after. Or Bridgman, sinewy on all fours, crawls between a table's legs, only seconds before his afterimage does the same. Tiny versions of the two dancers intermittently float down floor-to-ceiling screens. They're marionettes cut loose from their strings. Wait. Was that Bridgman the man or Bridgman the image who just flashed by? The question hangs in the air: Are we nothing more than, in the Borgesian sense, the projection of someone else's dream?
Also a Boston premiere, "Seductive Reasoning" (2003), to music by cellist Robert Een, brings to life (and the small screen) the ties that bind and sometimes fray between a longtime couple like Bridgman/Packer. Images of Packer now circle her like a conch shell, now draw a pentagon around her head. Bridgman joins her, and then their coupledom replicates, populating the stage. She dances with his virtual self, he with hers. The piece is a testament to how a partner can be enhanced as well as distorted in the other's eyes.
"Under the Skin" (2005), to music composed and performed by saxophonist Ken Field, is just that: A journey of Bridgman and Packer inside one another's skin. The two wear fabulous white hoop skirts. In turn, each raises the fabric over his or her head, and they magically interchange torsos and legs. The result veers between the freaky and the beautiful. In the background, elements rain down a scrim: ATGC, the nucleotides that make up our DNA. The 1's and 0's that made up early computerese. They comprise the languages of our bodies and our minds.