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Cedar Lake's Original "The Copier"

by Taylor Gordon
August 20, 2008
Cedar Lake
547 West 26th Street (between 10th & 11th Avenues)
New York, NY 10001
(212) 486-722

Featured Dance Company:

Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet
Cedar Lake
547 West 26th Street (between 10th & 11th Avenues)
New York, NY 10001
212.244.0015
www.cedarlakedance.com

www.taylorgordononline.com
Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet's "The Copier" is its newest attempt to break the ballet mold and integrate stellar technique with innovative elements. The installation, held at the company's home in Chelsea, offers audiences the chance to move about the space while observing Jill Johnson's choreography on a T-shaped stage.

Lights dim to signify the start, and dancers slowly make their way around viewers to their place. Soon the dancers diverge into seemingly random bouts of twists and turns, creating silly straw spirals with their bodies. Chaos.

Then they come together. The 15 of them slowly form a line and look up and down at each other with insecurity, copying each other's slow shifts closer to their neighbor before walking away. Here and a few other synchronized moments literally portray the "copying" that we do as humans, always repeating and mimicking.

A more effective interpretation of the title comes later, thanks to Jim French's lighting design. The dancers depart for a short break and the audience is left in darkness, some sitting on the perimeter of the stage, others wandering to get a better view. Suddenly a bar of white light scans across the ceiling, slowly passing each person and then returning along its path. It is the light of a copy machine and the audience is the document looking up to be duplicated. Are we at Kinkos? As it fades back to darkness an eerie feeling folds through the air.

The dancers return for continued chaos that highlights each dancer's wonderful movement quality but doesn't quite mesh as a whole. Stephen Galloway's random costumes don't help. It's difficult to know where to look.

A quiet solo for Ana-Maria Lucaciu steadies the work at this point. She enters and sits at the middle intersection of the T with one leg outstretched and the other knee bent with arms hugging it. Immediately I notice that I am sitting the same way. Is this copying?

Her movement and that of Acacia Schachte is particularly fluid.

Parts of "The Copier" are truly wonderful, intensifying the intended notion that "we're all copiers." But as a whole it was not entirely effective to offer it as an installation. The program notes invite viewers to freely move about the space circumscribing the low stage, but few participated. When they did, it was almost more distracting for a still viewer trying to take in the busy choreography. Perhaps "The Copier" would be better on a traditional stage to better display Johnson's vigorous choreography.
Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet in 'The Copier'

Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet in "The Copier"

Photo © & courtesy of Julieta Cervantes


Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet in 'The Copier'

Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet in "The Copier"

Photo © & courtesy of Julieta Cervantes


Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet in 'The Copier'

Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet in "The Copier"

Photo © & courtesy of Julieta Cervantes

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