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San Diego Arts

Malashock Dance: THE FLOATING WORLD

Ephemeral worlds connect at Copley Auditorium

By Thu, Apr 14th, 2011

Courtesy of Manny Rotenberg

John Malashock's new show The Floating World is a cohesive collaboration with video artist Tara Knight. On view through April 23, the production includes gorgeous costumes by acclaimed designer Zandra Rhodes and affecting cello music by Zoe Keating. Malashock's saavy design plans are evident the moment you enter Copley Auditorium, which is hardly recognizable.

On the surface, The Floating World tells the story of a contemporary dance company on tour -- the full-out performances, daily warm-ups and rehearsals, gritty nights on the town, even a hook-up. Dances have an infectious reality show vibe, drawn from Malashock's early career, touring with Twyla Tharp and later with Malashock Dance. The 55-minute program is also inspired by ancient Japanese wood block prints.

Afternoon start times encourage a visit to the Ukiyo-e wood block exhibit in the museum, but program notes will suffice. "Ukiyo-e" (the word for Japanese woodblock prints) literally translates as The Floating World. The woodblock aesthetic was to help people transcend everyday toils and to appreciate the present moment. That certainly transcends to dance, and the ephemeral act of dancing.

Video artist Knight chops up images from the prints to create collage animation. Ultimately, her "hybrid landscape" surrounds the audience and dancers. The audience sits in a square facing the dance action. The moving environments are projected onto four giant panels behind the audience.

It is fascinating to catch a glimpse of the textures and colors from the original prints. There is a subtle experience of floating through puffs of clouds seen through airplane windows. Viewers become part of strange environments with strobe lights, nightclubs, skyscrapers, city streets and sound effects.

Spoken dialogue is a tad corny, but brief, and dance aficionados will appreciate the banter. The company reels when the director changes something during rehearsal. A couple quarrels about timing. The company snaps at a fellow dancer, "Wrong leg!"

The movement in most sections is signature Malashock, playfully athletic and physically demanding. "Tour" performances are almost tribal with repetitive hops and slamming falls. The tiny and scrappy Christine Marshall is constantly launched into the air. Laura Binder and Nicholas Strasberg are believably uncaring partners in the hook-up.

Michael Mizerany portrays a frustrated and exhausted director. His solo is stunning. When the group is out whooping it up, he suffers alone in a hotel room. Stooped over as an old man, he shuffles his feet compulsively. He grips his thigh and tries to force his leg forward. He tries to meditate, but is desperate for ideas and cannot rest.

His performance is breathtaking. So is his exquisite silk robe, one of three costume designs by Rhodes. The company sizzles in tight leggings and lose bandana tops in red, black, and white, adorned with vivid painted swirls. Can't picture yourself in that one? Watch for the jeans with swirling gold patterns. You'll never own any of them, but you can purchase a very nice T-shirt with the patterns. Malashock has thought of everything for this production.

View Program Here

 


The Details
Category 
Dates 2 and 5 p.m. Saturdays & Sundays through April 23
Organization Malashock Dance
Phone 800-745-3000
Production Type
Region
Ticket Prices $12.50-$25
URL sdmart.org
Venue San Diego Museum of Art, Balboa Park, San Diego

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