Review: Darcy Lyons and Collaborators in Patchworks at The Iron Factory

Photo of HOME rehearsal by Darcy Lyons. Performer Katie Bank pictured. White house by Alice Thompson.

by Jane Fries for The Dance Journal

An appealing evening of solo performances created by Darcy Lyons together with each of the program’s performers, Patchworks provided fresh evidence of how working collaboratively can produce dances that showcase the individuality of the dancers.  The variety in the pieces that formed the overall design of this patchwork quilt was achieved through the development of distinct concepts that capitalized on the unique personalities involved.

The focus of Home was dancer Katie Bank’s relationship to a gauzy fabric house designed by visual artist Alice Thompson.  Bank was alternately inside or outside the house, sometimes gently spinning the structure or actually taking it with her as she traveled.  She seemed to find comfort in the house, but also pushed against its confinement, and best of all was when she twirled the sculpture around, the glowing fabric lit up magically from inside.  Bank’s dancing had a clear and open quality, which complimented Home’s straightforward scheme.

Eleanor offered the opportunity to see the same dance twice, but performed to two very different musical accompaniments.  Wearing a black dress, Julee Mahon danced first with frantic speed to the Beatles song “Eleanor Rigby”, trying to cover up her loneliness with frenzied activity.  Mahon repeated the same movement, this time wearing a blue, flowery outfit, to music by Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan.  With the new music, her dancing was transformed into an expansive and optimistic endeavor.  The short length of the piece helped to keep the concept tightly focused.

Resembling a cat burglar, dancer Caroline O’Brien took over in Brick, casting her shadow against the exposed-brick back wall of the performance space.   The dance took advantage of the architectural features of the room, with O’Brien sliding against the wall and using it as a reference point. She seemed to be letting the audience in on a secret caper – scampering, twisting, and turning as she encountered visible and invisible obstacles.

In Practice, visual artist Ivia Yavelow knelt on the ground, watching Darcy Lyons’ performance closely as she made charcoal drawings on paper of the shifting movement taking place in front of her.  Lyons’ body was another kind of canvas, also becoming marked by charcoal spread by her hands and feet.  Live video footage, shot from directly overhead of the action, was displayed on a screen nearby.  Thus, the audience had multiple layers art-making to choose from – I found my attention switching back and forth between the live and filmed versions.

Rounding out the concert was a series of trios and solos choreographed and performed by participants in a recent choreography workshop led by Lyons.

A short dance film by guest artist Lily Kind was also available for viewing before and after the performance.  Entitled Metrognome, it was a tiny treasure hidden inside a television monitor.

Presented by Lyons and Tigers, Patchworks took place on May 13 and 14 at The Iron Factory, a 3rd floor walk-up space that holds around 30 people.  Viewing dance in such an intimate setting allows the audience to see the performers up-close, to feel them breathing, and to catch small nuances in their expressions.  It’s a much different situation than in a bigger theater, and the contrast is worth experiencing.

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