Jacques Heim‘s DIAVOLO | Architecture in Motion challenges one’s perspective of dance with its unique use of props and intricate performances. Expanding on a natural spark of curiosity as a way of reeling the viewer in, the dancers’ movements reflect the evolution and process of self-discovery we go through as people when we head into unknown futures.
Performed as one piece for the first time in North America, Heim’s dance trilogy, collectively titled L’Espace du Temps progressed through “creation,” “evolution” and “unknown destination” to slowly build up the performance to a resounding finale. New West Symphony orchestra’s take on Esa-Pekka Salonen, John Adams, and Philip Glass‘ compelling scores created a raw feeling that enlivened all three dances into a state of vivacity expressed through sudden twirls and pounces, adding a sense of enthusiastic excitability to every jump and landing.
Re-orchestrated by Christopher Rountree into a shorter, 20-minute piece, Salonen’s composition for “Foreign Bodies” propelled the dancers to leap onto and bound off of a giant, jigsaw-puzzle–like cube on stage. With every triumphant trumpet blast and zing of quick-sounding strings, each performer illustrated the period of birth through self-actualization. The re-stacking of the 800-pound aluminum cube into triangles created peaks and valleys that resembled human beings’ orientation of life.
Adams’ “Fearful Symmetries” took on an even faster-paced tone as the dancers’ strong athleticism dominated a giant, shifting cube and rising stage platform. Employing comedic elements often associated with finding something new, the dance began with an innocent curiosity that was supported by rising and falling beats within Adams’ composition. Heim’s troupe reflected heavier and more daunting musical changes by transforming the attitudes from gentle gymnastic movements to saucy stances and brusque kicks. Each performer –five men and five women– took on powerful poses that climaxed during a final battle of the sexes, which included violent kisses and opposing forces. The group of ten eventually reached a sense of equilibrium before reverting back to their original state of wonder and self-reflection.
The third installment inspired a standing ovation from the audience for a poignant representation of unsettling conclusions we all feel and experience in our day-to-day lives. Glass’ composition for “Fluid Infinities” had a subtle, yet powerful rhythmic consistency. Like “Fearful Symmetries,” the piece also began with the discovery of the prop, but rather than take on a similar race-like atmosphere, there was a more focused concentration on each dancer’s individual growth. They slowly seemed to give off a sense of accomplishment and purpose as they revealed more about themselves while slowly weaving in and out of the holes of a giant, dome-like half-circle, filling the spaces in between with continuous and flowy solos.
The most surprising moment of the evening was an announcement that took place during the intermission, about five minutes before the final dance began. Heim himself emerged to say that one of the dancers had been injured and that we would have to “use our imagination” to fill in the gaps within the choreography. This disclosure, however, was completely unnecessary. “Fluid Infinities” had enough power to gracefully portray all of the instabilities found within the human condition through its representation of the movements in the final dance.
During the last third, one of the women was isolated by the pack and placed inside of a clear tube which she repeatedly attempted to crawl out of before the other performers suddenly moved it into a horizontal position in front of the audience. She fruitlessly wiggled back and forth within the cylinder as one of the men mockingly moved on the ground beneath her see-through shell. Finally, the spaceship-like dome swiveled around on the stage, hiding the group of dancers. After a short few seconds of silence, the tube was moved through one of the holes allowing the woman inside to break out of her confinement and finally taste freedom. In the end, we can all identify with the solitary dancer emerging from the capsule of life, as we take our first deep breath and prepare to face the unknown.