REVIEW: Lyons and Tigers’ Bricolage at The Iron Factory

by Jane Fries for The Dance Journal | photo credit: Ryan Collerd

The term “bricolage” describes a work of art cobbled together from whatever materials come to hand, and indeed, the dance concert presented this past weekend by Darcy Lyons and three other contributing choreographers was particularly interesting in how the evening’s four short works functioned in relation to each other.

The first piece, Refract, Reflect, Absorb, choreographed by Meredith Stapleton, was set to a live feed of National Public Radio. On Sunday night, the feed happened to be Fresh Air with Terry Gross interviewing Jordan Peele about his new comedy horror film “Get Out.” Against this distracting background of chatter, three dancers (Marisa Illingworth, Harlee Trautman, and Jennifer Yackel) carried on with their activities of walking, leaning, holding shapes, and fidgeting. They seemed inured to the bombardment of media as they navigated their present task. The audience, too, was challenged to focus on watching the dance with the radio discussion competing for our attention.

In Lyons’ 5 Stages of Grief, the media onslaught becomes specific: a sound collage of news sources announces that Donald Trump has been elected president. The four dancers (Celine McBride, Olivia Naegele, Meredith Stapleton and Mary-Carmen Webb) are flattened by the news, collapsing as a group to the floor. The sound segues into Steve Reich’s Drumming: Part 1, which here feels incessant.  Much of the dancing continues on the floor, as the dancers squirm, scoot and roll around under the weight of the unthinkable new reality. For me, the trauma of Trump’s election is still too fresh – I’m not past the anger stage; however Lyons’ piece will be an interesting record to look back at years from now as it captures the anxiety of the 2016 election and its aftermath.

The audience was asked to move their chairs into a close circle for Celine McBride’s solo gross power moves. The theme of assault from the outside was abstract but also intense, as McBride appeared to be withstanding unseen forces – reacting with disjointed movements. The tight space, echoing electronic music (composed and performed live by Ben Walls), and dim, red lighting conjured an eerie link to the horror movie that we heard about earlier in the evening.

subject: to change, a mini-drama choreographed and performed by Mary-Carmen Webb and Harlee Trautman, served as a comedic rejoinder to the preceding pieces. In the day of the life of two school girls, the sense of overload came from multiple sources: Too much time to kill, too many textbooks, too much information to process, and even too many apples, which spilled across the floor when Trautman opened up her lunch bag. The two performers created their own soundtrack by drumming fingers on their desk tops, hopping in their chairs, etc.

Lyons and Tigers presented Bricolage at the Iron Factory in Kensington – an indie venue where you climb up two steep flights of stairs, leave your shoes on the landing, and catch a glimpse of what the emerging artists of the Philly dance world are up to.

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