From England, the highly recognized Motionhouse Dance Company made its New York City debut here at the University, presenting their successful touring theater production “Scattered.” Demonstrating their trademark use of imagery and theatrics, “Scattered” delved into a world of water, as well as into the minds and imaginations of the audience.
In addition to a mere seven-member company of incredibly athletic and talented dancers originating from countries all around the globe, the performance included a unique set design and original music.
Similar to their other theatre productions, this particular show incorporated hypnotizing aerial work on a curved floor that utilized film and graphic projections to create an underwater sensational experience. The huge half-pipe like floor skyrocketed upwards, creating a dangerously entertaining steepness on which the dancers performed for an astounding stamina and strength-challenging seventy minutes.
The dancers dangled from the edge of the cliff-hanging peak with all of their strength, while at the same time performing incredible tricks. Many times they clung on with only one hand and intertwined with other bodies in various positions, all the while remaining present in their facial expressions and emotions. From the very first time a dancer simply rolled herself down the steep arch, the tricks continued to become increasingly difficult, and therefore all the more impressive. The dancers climbed silk sheets up the floor, built a human chain on top one another, walked across each others feet, and tumbled in bungee harnesses, all on the incredibly steep angle of the floor.
The marriage between the arched floor and the projection technology was perfect. The floor acted as a screen for the constantly evolving images, but served as more than just a background. The bodies of the dancers were used in the most accurate cohesion with the screen, jumping on the surface at the exact times when graphics were moving and changing. The choreography was timed perfectly with the projections, which established a believable imagery.
The intensity with which each stunt was performed seemed un-human. However, the dancers were smooth and graceful throughout the show, remaining in control even when they fell to the ground, landing softly always.
The use of silk sheets helped create an underwater world onstage. As if the projected moving graphics weren’t enough, the silk brought the images on screen to life in a 3D concept. Another prop that reoccurred onstage were plastic water bottles. The water bottles, filled with water inside, brought the audience into perspective with our everyday use of water as a resource, while constantly zooming into the idea of water itself at a closer level and in its many forms.
The choreography was interesting and aesthetically pleasing as it varied between harsh and fast movements in addition to slow liquidlike motions, all of which were contrasted by the music. It takes a tremendous amount of effort and concentration to constantly be counting to ensure that you make each mark on time because there are no words in the music to help guide you.
Exploring the reoccurring theme of water as a fundamental force in our lives, the dancers transported the audience through an ocean and a waterfall, as well as a scorching hot sun and frozen arctic avalanche.
If anyone is interested in buying tickets to a classical performance dance company, then this show is surely not for them. This performance is without a doubt “scattered” in all nature and form. The style is completely original contemporary movement in which each dancer is executing something different than the others onstage at the same time. Similarly, each dancer is wearing different clothes, rather than not costumes, which embodies the natural and raw tone of Motionhouse’s style of dance and performance.
Freshman Commercial Dancer major Shalynne Armstrong had the opportunity to take a master class with the Motionhouse Dance Company here at the university. “They explore the boundaries of movement. That’s what I learned when I took class with them…to always push to the point where you fall and have to catch yourself. Don’t almost fall- actually fall,” she described.
Using aerial silks, props, and harnesses, the dancers flew through the air and moved throughout the distinctively shaped floor. Accompanied by lyric-free music, the dancers movements were accented by the inventive sounds, which, along with their acting, helped to carry the varying ideas and concepts of water throughout the show.
“I thought it was amazing,” Shalynne exclaims, “…inventive, creative, artistic, athletic, entertaining, and mesmerizing!” Without having the opportunity to actually view the incredibly abstract entertainment of the Motionhouse Dance Company, one will never fully understand how fascinating and mind-blowing Scattered truly is. “The whole thing was my favorite part!”