Never have I seen the stage/audience barrier so cleverly eradicated as in New Movement Collective’s new work Casting Traces. Inventive, ambitious and cleverly articulated, the collective’s new work, performed as part of Big Dance 2012, has combined architecture, film, music, and dance to provide an immersive experience challenging the traditionally wired audience member.
Founded in 2009, New Movement Collective are a collaborative set of dancers/choreographers who aim to develop work that is a direct response to different and unusual theatre settings, transforming and evolving the notion of contemporary dance theatre by playing with the boundaries of dance and architecture.
From the moment of ticket collection, with intricately-folded programs and the adorning of white paper coats, the experience had begun. Entering a small space dominated by two dancing shadows and a solo violin, the anticipation rose. The telephone kept ringing, and then… the paper barrier broke. The 650sq metre old dairy had become (via a paper labyrinth) a train station… New York’s back streets… an apartment. Dancers meet, depart, hurdle and lift, sometimes obscured by paper, at other times in full spotlight.
Inspired by the non-linear aspects of Paul Auster’s novel “The New York Trilogy”, a clamoring of scenes, ideas and evocative moments spin a tantalizing portrait of potential stories. The audience members are invited to explore every crevice of the work, drawn through the space with pinpointed lighting and sound design. Encapsulating different areas of the space, dancers appear and disappear in the network of paper to engage with one another. The dancers are confident in their stride and focus, audience members turn in surprise or dash out of the way as a performer hurtles past to begin a compelling and intimate duet only steps away.
In such a voyeuristic setting, and with ample opportunity for experiencing and aiding the transformation of the work, New Movement Collective has developed a complete sensory experience. Illusion, mystery and shadow play dominate with as much unseen as seen. It is not only the dancers that create this performance, the audience is an integral part of it too, shaping the work and heightening the anticipation of finding the next part of the performance occurring. The dancers blend into the crowd when they wish, or they stand out and perform; either way the movement became palpable. Each part of the dance that was revealed offered a precious and unique moment which propagated the feeling of wanting more.
The dancing itself was articulate and dynamic, the performers never escaping the intensity of their movement. Characters were hinted at, but never entirely revealed; relationships were many and often changed. This work offered no solid answers to the events that were unfolding; confusing at times, it heightened the uncertainty of the space and revealed a new platform for integrated work.
I left this performance feeling like I’d missed something, worried about the phrases I hadn’t caught, the dancing I’d desired to see and not. Over time this bred into a settled certainty that I had been more involved, more up close and personal than I’d ever been able to be as an audience member. Primarily fleeting, the setting created by these dance artists ensures you will feel compelled to come back. Casting Traces is a work you could see over and over again, arriving at a different point and conclusion each time. Transformative and experimental, New Movement Collective have used the ephemeral nature of dance to their advantage, enabling an immersive experience that is not to be missed.