Exit Disclaimer: Science and Fiction Ahead | Dance review
Yesterday, it was 75 degrees and sunny. Climate change? Global warming? Could be, depending on who you’re inclined to believe. That’s the central inspiration for Carrie Hanson’s Exit Disclaimer: Science and Fiction Ahead, now playing through Saturday at the Dance Center of Columbia College.
Amidst compressed set pieces of Rubik’s Cube-like boxes (an allusion, maybe, to clusters of recyclables or trash) a spotlight shines on a school desk, while two dancers fancifully—like impressionable children—fuss with one another. The sweet prodding of the couple clashes against cheeky intercuts of bubbly tunes, while the rest of the cast assembles to perform Hanson’s whimsical yet grounded base of modern phrasing. The dancers—kinetic movers, as described by Hanson—shift between bits of performance art and choreography, using spoken language, movement and a smidgen of theater to portray the contentious divide over a rather bitter debate.
What ensues is something subtle and deftly clever in its contrasts: nature versus nurture, present and future, and (the driving force of all things) money and power. A slow start ultimately builds to a sleek, smartly crafted commentary of culture gaps and conflicting ideals. This piece doesn’t exclusively speak about climate change, but about a culture of clashing viewpoints. What one person believes, the other is ready to refute with illogical, impulsive and downright silly harangues. A prop-heavy performance finds lots of irony and humor for a subject inevitably tied to rancorous politics.
But politics doesn’t define the piece, and here is where Hanson separates herself from the status quo; she amasses tons of information and dissects it from every vantage point, but avoids being predictable. Exit Disclaimer is not a lecture on the pitfalls of climate change, or whether it’s simply the natural course of things; instead, there’s a sly suggestion that we’re all part of the same demise. In the beginning of the piece, the dancers wear pedestrian clothing—a naïve girl in a skirt, a little boy wearing a NASA t-shirt. After a brief pause, the dancers change into all white, suggesting that they’ve matured; their identities are linked to one another. Finally, the last phrase of unison pits them together. The group breathes as a single unit, inhaling and exhaling. A Darth Vader-like straining sound oozes in the background. Just before the set goes dark, the dancers take a last gasp for air, but, as with members of the audience, the lights cut out before anyone has a chance to exhale.
Exit Disclaimer: Science and Fiction Ahead continues at the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago Friday and Saturday at 8pm.