At City Dance, a true — and transfixing — space oddity

December 2, 2012

A blood-red waning moon hung low over Strathmore on Saturday night, and chances are no one was more thrilled with nature’s decor than choreographer Erica Rebollar. CityDance, a school and arts production organization based at Strathmore, hosted the premier of Rebollar’s “Space Junk,” a 60-minute modern-dance meditation on the Great Beyond. The work was big and abstract in scope, but minute in its attention to details such as lighting, shadows and creating the ambiance of a moon landing in a black-box dance studio.

The title is something of a pun, referring to both orbital detritus and the choreographer’s interest in making the “junk” of a theatrical space part of the performance. Rebollar has also said she’s intent on exploring “objective realities of our exterior universe compared with the interior workings of our subjective mind.” Thankfully, the actual dance piece was easier to parse than the program notes.

“Space Junk” was performed in the round, with patrons surrounding the dance floor, which was ringed with both spotlights and flickering fluorescent tubes. Overhead, two draped panels served as screens for projected images of space exploration. Ben Levine devised the lighting; Charlie Campagna mixed an electronic score using everything from bleeps to astronaut musings to David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” For the most part, the movement vocabulary was as unique as the design. Rebollar often had her dancers work in diagonals, crossing the floor in springy, symmetrical side-steps. A bold ensemble of five sometimes moved in unison and sometimes split, such that viewers were free to pick their focal points. Little motifs stood out, as when Amber-Jean Tietgens lay prone and arched her back, curling her arms and legs upward, as if she were Michael Phelps swimming freestyle in zero gravity. Earlier, in that same corner of the theater, Nate Bond and Kjerstin Lysne held reverse positions. Balancing on their tailbones, they slowly and simultaneously churned the air with their hands and feet. By the light of a (fake) full moon, they created an illusion of floating — at least that’s how they appeared to one subjective mind entranced by this performance.

Ritzel is a freelance writer.


CityDance, a school and arts production organization based at Strathmore, hosted the premier of Erica Rebollar’s “Space Junk” (Courtesy of CityDance)

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