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Everything is Illuminated in Light House: Three Dancers, One Musician, Thirty Fluorescent Lights, And a Continuous Evolution of Movement, Sound and Environment

by Bonnie Rosenstock
May 30, 2014
The Invisible Dog Art Center
51 Bergen Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(347)560-3641
www.theinvisibledog.org
- Choreography and concept by Anne Zuerner in collaboration with the performers.
- Performed by Erin Cairns Cella, Zoe Rabinowitz and Phoebe Rose Sandford
Music composed and performed by Galen Bremer.
Choreographer Anne Zuerner's remarkable Light House: Three Dancers, One Musician, Thirty Fluorescent Lights And a Continuous Evolution of Movement, Sound and Environment is an exceptionally long title, but it decidedly elucidated its concepts—with one minor exception.

There were three brilliant, indefatigable dancers, who moved in sublime synchronicity during the rigorous 45-minute performance. There was one talented musician, Galen Bremer, whose rhythmic riffs drove the performers. There was a continuous evolution of movement, what Kuerner described in a one-on-one pre-performance sit-down, as "taking one phrase of movement and sticking with it for a long time and trying it upside down, inside out. Repetition starts to transform, finding other things into it. Going deeper is where I find the complexity."

The performance took place on the third floor of The Invisible Dog Art Center, a gritty raw space in a converted factory building in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. A white Masonite board lay atop a section of the wooden floor, delineating a closed world. (The audience sat on three sides, which formed another boundary.) On each of the four sides, just beyond the Masonite, were two liquid-filled jars spaced apart, lit by small spotlights. The liquids ranged from dark blue to light green. The dancers wore blue unitards, draped over by a two-piece diaphanous fabric. There was a one-foot-long fluorescent light near each of their arms and legs, for a total of twelve. (Hence, the minor exception. Zuerner admitted that thirty was ambitious; it wouldn't work in the space or with the choreography, but the name stuck.)

In the darkened space the dancers, lying on their backs, manipulated the lights up and down with their arms, like snow angels or sea creatures. They arched and twitched, twisted and turned, occasionally rising to almost sitting and falling back down again. In one particularly lovely moment, lying on their backs, with their lithe limbs joined, they created a giant moving wave, reminiscent of a sea anemone. The dancers traveled in a variety of patterns and velocities—slow and quiet, fast and frenzied—avoiding the beams of light that marked their pathways. Eventually, they kicked away the fluorescent lights. They seemed spent, yet renewed.

Most of Zuerner's dances involve lighting. "They help create a particular world," she explained. "We made a grid and experimented with all the different ways we can travel through this grid using this particular footwork pattern. Two footwork phrases were deconstructed and put back in numerous ways—crossing, spiraling. It just started taking on a life of its own."

Fluorescent lights evoked a phosphorescent underwater world, or even outer space. Zuerner, who grew up in Rhode Island, stated that water is part of her soul. She remembers when she was a kid how the jellyfish would light up. "Some sea creatures live in the darkest possible place but have their own internal illumination," she added. "We can find our own internal illumination even when we feel we are surrounded by darkness."

Zuerner started practicing yoga and mediating around the same time she was creating this work, which helped shape its themes. "It also made me watch my own work, to just observe, not judge so much and not constantly try to control or fix what I was looking at."

Zuerner's ten-minute aptly named solo companion piece, Prelude, came first and "explores shadow, transformation, the creature inside and the personal origins of Light House," the program notes explained. She used the other end of the massive space, which created a completely different environment—and the audience was seated in a semi-circle. The light came from the large windows that looked onto the street, nine overhead lamps and a flashlight that Zuerner used to search the space and to light up the left part of her face. As in the longer piece, she began recumbent, on a small shag rug, and gradually found her way to standing. She poured dark blue liquid over her head, which streaked her face and leotard. She repeatedly flung her long hair back and forth over her face and then danced seamlessly with her hair covering her face, as if possessed. It was a strange, yet beauteous sight.

Zuerner created the long piece first, but they were very much related in structure and state of mind. "It was one way of dealing with how I was feeling in the longer work," she said. "The solo is a very raw human way to deal with issues."

Also, she wanted to dance. "You're the choreographer, but you really need to step away," she said. "I am house manager, press person, etc. If I wasn't dancing, I think I would be more stressed out."

Demons exorcised. The light won out.
'Light House' choreographed by Anne Zuerner.

"Light House" choreographed by Anne Zuerner.

Photo © & courtesy of Whitney Browne


'Light House' choreographed by Anne Zuerner.

"Light House" choreographed by Anne Zuerner.

Photo © & courtesy of Whitney Browne


'Light House' choreographed by Anne Zuerner.

"Light House" choreographed by Anne Zuerner.

Photo © & courtesy of Whitney Browne


'Light House' choreographed by Anne Zuerner.

"Light House" choreographed by Anne Zuerner.

Photo © & courtesy of Whitney Browne

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