The New Normal
The students in the Dance Theatre Group’s fall production have no stage embellishments or structures to duck behind, no backstage area to wait in, unseen. So, like social-media uber-users, they simply accept that they are always on display.
That’s just one of the creative decisions that power The New Normal, a cutting-edge performance that uses humor, creativity, movement and multimedia to depict to depict radical societal changes and the ways in which we respond to them, said Sarah Skaggs, director of dance. These include economic and social shifts brought on by morphing world and national economies and evolving modes of communication brought on by technologies such as Skype, text messaging, body scans, social media, Wii gaming and enhanced reality.
The show opens tonight at Mathers Theatre and continues through Sunday. [Story continues below.]
Guest choreographers Jung-eun Kim, Art Bridgman and Myrna Packer use multimedia to illustrate the 21st-century's fast-evolving social landscapes in unique ways. Kim's dance presents several layers of artistic expression and an intermingling of high- and low-tech imagery: While the dancers perform, we see video projections of drawings they had previously created. Bridgman and Packer use video feeds to show the live performance from different angles.
Dawn Springer, postgraduate fellow in dance, choreographed and directed several works that examine the ways in which we view live bodies, as opposed to technology-mediated images. “The students were fundamental to the creative process,” she said, adding that they “really sink their teeth” into the work.
In Springer’s view, the very act of attending a live performance is in itself an important declaration, in an age when text messages often replace actual conversation and Facebook interaction replaces in-person social experiences.
“A live performance offers a necessary opportunity for tactile presence and creates a different experience of time,” she said, noting that audience members cannot use a mouse to click elsewhere or rewind what they’ve seen, via remote control. “It is of the body. It is of the now.”
The New Normal opens tonight (Nov. 18) at 8 p.m. in Mathers Theatre, Holland Union Building. It also will run at 8 p.m. on Sat., Nov. 19 and at 2 p.m. on Sun., Nov. 20. Tickets are $5, or $3 for students in advance.
By MaryAlice Bitts Jackson
Photos by A. Pierce Bounds ’71