Within the context of the new wave and pop dances that made up the bulk of the George Mason University Dance Company's concert at Harris Theatre this weekend, the elemental ritual of Kei Takei's "Light, Part II" was almost shattering in its repose.
It is, under any circumstance, an astonishing experience to see or resee a work by Takei. One of the most original and profound contemporary choreographers, Takei has poured her vision into a serial work, "Light," which to date has 20 parts. The "Light" series is a thing unto itself -- a single-handed answer to David Denby's argument in The Atlantic that there is no experience in live theater as compelling as film. By transporting the audience and the preformers to another world with her invented rituals, Takei addresses herself to the true business of live theater.
The dance clearly worked this same magic upon its George Mason performers. From a rather tentative beginning lacking in weight and conviction, the dancers gradually were drawn into Takei's group ceremonies. Breathing audibly in rhythmic unison, they formed themselves into shifting groups that clapped out rhythms with stones, stamped and gestured in the manner of martial arts, and hurled onto the stage with reckless passion. Their strength and energy drawn from the structure of the work itself, the dancers were transformed from the hip personas of the other dances on the program into involved and committed performers.