The Leopold Group | Dance review and slideshow
Smart isn’t the right word. Cerebral is more like it.
If you didn’t catch the Leopold Group’s A Correct Likeness at DEFIBRILLATOR this past weekend (or back in October), you missed a brainy show. Lizzie Leopold—the company’s artistic director—turned an hour-long performance into a multilayered experience. Inspired by the notion that portrait art is a type of fictional truth, the work seems bent on unraveling that oxymoronic mystery. It’s not entirely unexpected; as a choreographer, Leopold is crafty, deliberate and willing to tackle the abstract. What’s surprising, though, is the suspense that takes shape in a non-proscenium setting, as though we're anxiously flipping through chapters of a best-selling book. What’s next?, the audience wonders.
A collaboration with Bread & Roses Productions, A Correct Likeness uses photography from Arn Klein, Matthew Gregory Hollis and Jessie Young as a starting point. Portrait shots of the dancers are spread throughout the gallery. It’s a nice composite of the lifeless (photo) and the living (dancer), though both are similarly inanimate to start. The expectation is that the dancers will somehow translate their images to movement. Instead, the pics act more like a décor than a device. It’s a clever move, planting the seed rather than being overly literal.
Three white, movable slabs serve as blank canvas for the dancers, who perform stoically like would-be “portraits,” slowly becoming more lucid in their dancing. A projector refracts sensory images onto a newly constructed backdrop made from the white blocks, where a solo by Laura Vinci de Vanegas nearly steals the show. Jordan Newmark, Nicole Uribarri, Natalia Negron, Melissa Bloch and Amanda Dye are equally engaging, while the soundtrack ranges from muted arrangements of old-time classics to Mozart’s dreary Lacrimosa to the laid-back country of Willie Nelson. The choreography is acutely sharp and precise, but it’s the combination of the set, the mood and progression of the characters that makes A Correct Likeness enthralling.
Can we distinguish the truths from the fictions? As the dancers finish, dressing in casual attire and slowly interacting with the audience, we realize the fourth wall has been broken; the dancers are fully-formed and living. We’ve formed our impressions of them. Now they’re about to tell us who they really are.
The Leopold Group encouraged audience members to take photos during the show. Check out our pics above, or go to facebook.com/leopoldgroup to see through the lens of other audience members.