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'The Extent to Which'

by Victoria Dombroski

January 7, 2010 -- Dance New Amsterdam, New York, NY

Daria Fain’s “The Extent to Which” was a very intriguing piece of work performed at Dance New Amsterdam as part of the APAP Showcase. Before the dancing started, the audience could see scattered matter, clay balls that looked as if they were thrown sporadically around the floor. To begin there was a film shown of a previous performance in which plexiglas panels were put up creating a barrier between the audience and dancers. The clay balls were also used in the film showing the dancers throwing them between themselves and at the walls. In addition, there were pipes that let sounds out at different outlets and uneven timings, creating a mysterious and anticipating quality.  Overall this piece was a beautiful amalgamation of the relationship between dancers and their physical surroundings.

The live performance was a solo by one of Daria Fane’s company dancers.  It was an up close version of movement the on screen, the dancing showing the same tone and quality.  The connection between the dancer, floor, music, clay balls, and even the wall behind her was all a sensory experience. The music had distinct short sounds with a low steady rhythm in the background. The dancer moved with extreme control, pushing slowly through what seemed to be thick air or matter in space. Her movements corresponded with the sounds in the music, accenting both the movement and the sound. For example, at one point in the music there was a sharp sound that seemed to come out of nowhere, and her arm and focus extended swiftly in the opposite direction. The dancer connected with the space around her and made it seem even more real and augmented. There were times when she rolled around the floor in compacted shapes and beautiful contortions, affecting the clay balls that were around her and causing them to roll out in different directions. At other points in the piece she used the wall behind her as if it were another dance floor. She was able to put her leg or foot up against the wall behind her to continue in her slow controlled movements and use it to rebound off of into the next movement.

The sounds and music came from two different sets of speakers on either side of the floor, which gave a slight sense of disorientation but added to the uniqueness of the piece. It is not so ordinary to have music coming from only one side at a time or randomly from side to side. With the performance shown in the film, however, it seemed to be more amplified and perhaps had even more of an impact on that audience than I had experienced. There was also the sense of sound incorporated again with the clay balls, as she either threw them at the ground, or turned and spun them about. One of them actually hit my foot, which made me feel connected to the piece. I became more aware of my surroundings, even the wall or chair beside me.

Daria Fain spoke about her study in architecture and how it affects our perceptions of the way we experience and perceive the space around us, as well as the human body itself. She noted that when we look at Greek architecture, the sculptures of the human body are presented as they were perceived by those artists. The interaction between human bodies and the walls shown in the film gave a deeper sensory experience of the body and interaction with architecture.  This performance I found to be very connected to the viewer, and affected the senses more so than usual.

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