by Chelsey Hamilton for The Dance Journal
In the versatile theater space of the Fringe Arts venue, the audience filed into their seats as Aleksandr Frolov silently lay on the floor of the stage, completely still. When the show began, the audience members peered around in curiosity, wondering what was going to happen next.
Gabrielle Revlock walked out of a side door that was on the stage and lay on the floor under a beam of light next to Frolov, while slowly moving her hand to connect to his at the fingers. Suddenly, the lights turned into a blinding brightness as the two dancers hopped up and started babbling uncontrollably and racing around the space.
Frolov and Revlock first collaborated at Omi International Art Center in August 2014 and continued to work together at a residency in North Carolina in 2015. They soon realized the chemistry between them as dancers and decided to continue creating work together. Revlock, an award-winning contemporary performer based in New York City, is known for her work with the hoop. Frolov, on the other hand, is a choreographer and performer based out of Russia. Fringe Arts is known as “Philadelphia’s home for convention-smashing contemporary performing arts,” so it was only appropriate that these two performed here.
Their chemistry and shared humor was evident from the moment they began sharing the stage. After retreating from the floor in such a sudden manner, the duo stopped and simply stared at each other, with no other movement, for a few seconds. With looks of intense curiosity on their faces, they started putting their hands all over each other, which then moved into a playful slapping sequence.
After what looked like an attempt to climb the brick wall on the stage, Frolov somehow positioned himself underneath Revlock and put her on his shoulders. For the pure entertainment of the audience, they screamed and laughed as he ran around the space and almost dropped her off his shoulders numerous times. The dancers stopped again, staring at each other with looks of deep curiosity, before repeating the slapping sequence.
This time they ended up on the floor in an intense arm wrestle. The audience roared with laughter as Frolov struggled to win the arm wrestle, although Revlock was clearly dominating. Revlock then stood on Frolov’s back as he contorted his body into a tiny ball on the ground.
As she strained to stay balanced while standing on Frolov’s back, Revlock went into an impulsive speech about death and life while Frolov repeated certain words back to her in Russian. It seemed as though they were trying to speak over each other and outdo one another with their dialogue.
Next, Frolov brought out a window screen to use as a prop. The duo pushed each other around the stage through the screen, before running around and chasing one another while growling and grunting like animals. It was so odd that you just had to laugh.
Revlock started humming to herself and dancing around effortlessly and casually, utilizing the space by wrapping herself up in the stage’s curtain, standing on the table, and walking out of the space and back in from the side door. Next, she brought out a megaphone and started screaming and cursing at Frolov, who was dancing around her in a mocking way, to put his hands on the wall.
After Frolov eventually listened to her orders, Revlock started making paper airplanes and shyly throwing them at him. The duo then moved into what seemed like a role play, where they pretended to have small talk and pretended to walk in and out of different rooms.
After this scene, they started mimicking and making fun of each other, before moving to the ground and rolling over one another. Frolov then brought out a sheet and put it over Revlock. They began hugging and kissing one another through the sheet, which seemed oddly sentimental compared to the humorous nature of the rest of the piece. Revlock moved the blanket from herself onto Frolov and brought the megaphone back out. As she spoke into the megaphone, Frolov wandered around blindly with the sheet over his head, reaching out in front of him and trying to find her. She gradually made her way up the steps of the audience and out of the space, while Frolov continued looking around for her and eventually gave up and walked out the door, ending the performance.
In the program, Revlock explained this “game element” that was used throughout the piece. She mentioned that they did a lot of role playing and stepping into different states, and that they “continued working together because they found a really good chemistry and shared a sense of humor.” This element was very clear throughout the piece, as the audience spent most of the hour-long performance either giggling uncomfortably in confusion at what was going on, or howling with laughter at some of the more obvious funny parts. Either way, it was highly entertaining and kept the audience engaged throughout the entire length of the show.
***photo courtesy of FringeArts