Oscillating vignettes: Pendulum by Lyons and Tigers

by Olivia Wood for The Dance Journal

On Saturday night, April 28th, Darcy Lyons, artistic director of Lyons and Tigers, produced Pendulum, a show which can best be described as an eclectic evening of postmodern dance at the Iron Factory.

The show began with Untitled and Solo, choreographed and performed by Zornista Stoyanova. Upon entering the theater, the audience notices the elephant in the room, an enormous rectangular silver balloon sitting in the corner of the space. Merce Cunningham’s Rainforest immediately comes to mind. Eventually, the lights dim and for approximately twenty minutes, the balloon softly glides and scuttles forward like a weightless hippopotamus. It is only when her silhouette appears that the audience realizes that Stoyanova is inside the balloon. She manipulates the material, creating an ambient sound of crashing waves. A foot is glimpsed, then legs, and finally, at the end of the piece, Stoyanova emerges from her chrome chrysalis.

Next, Femme, choreographed and performed by Courtney Colón, juxtaposed Stoyanova’s piece. Clearly alluding to socio-political issues faced by women in our contemporary society, Colón sets the stage with a television screen image of a caged bird and behind it is a pile of pink rose petals. She begins to dance sumptuously in her evening wear and heels, facing away from the audience. Eventually, the movement becomes more faltering and grotesque, and our choreographer falls to the ground. She crawls to the pile of petals, arches her back and trembles on all fours, and spits petals from her mouth. Colón ends the piece by limping doubled over upstage while trailing the petals from between her legs as if she were painfully menstruating. Through her choreography, she creates a macabre, quasi-voyeuristic experience that begs the question, “what can we do as bystanders?”

Grate, created and performed by Amy Lynne Barr, lends a tender tone to the evening. She tells a story, physically and verbally, of a woman struggling to make a career in the arts. She asks what it means to be great and articulates perfectly the feeling of falling through the grates of life. She weaves a story of rejection, uphill battles, determination, growth, grit, tears, and love. Through her smooth, circular movements, PowerPoint presentation of her life, the color blue, and singing of “Maybe This Time” from Cabaret, Barr reminds us never to lose heart; that maybe this time, we will win.

Heaviness/Lightness, directed and co-choreographed by Darcy Lyons and stb x allows the evening to end on a whimsical note. Sean Thomas Boyt (co-choreographer of the piece) and the musician, Andy Thierauf, dance together. The piece is comprised of three sections: “Heaviness,” “Lightness,” and “Never one without the other.” Boyt and Thierauf work in tandem and have excellent rapport onstage. Boyt embodies the music, responding to the various cues with ease, and to the objects onstage: a set of glowing Newton’s balls and a bubble machine. The performers have a conversation with each other, complete with babbling sounds, gestures, and partnering. The movement breathes, inhaling, exhaling, falling, recovering, just like life follows its courses of positive and negative, boredom and excitement, etc., reminding the viewers that we cannot appreciate the light without acknowledging the darkness.

Each piece presented in Pendulum deals with universal themes in life and society. While the tones of each work and the methods by which the choreographers convey them differ tremendously, all four works have the use of props in common. A final commonality is that each work tugs at the heartstrings and evokes positive and negative emotions. An oscillating series of vignettes, Pendulum truly lives up to its name.

 

About Olivia Wood

Olivia Wood is a Philadelphia-based professional dancer, currently dancing for Grounded Aerial Dance Company and AMMDCO and has performed in several venues in Philadelphia and New York City, including the Suzanne Roberts Theater, Performance Garage, and the Guggenheim Museum. She holds her B.A. in Dance and Spanish from Muhlenberg College from which she graduated Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Sigma Iota. Olivia recently earned her certification to teach Grounded Aerial Bungee Technique in Lyon, France and also teaches dance in Sicklerville, NJ.

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