Agora de la danse
October 6–9, 2010
Reviewed by Philip Szporer
Stamos' torso, Pinto's legs in Cloak. Photo by Julieta Cervantes, courtesy Agora de la danse.
George Stamos infuses Cloak with a smooth interdisciplinarity, working video, sound, music, movement, and voice into the mix. The theme of transformation permeates, inviting questions about hybridity and the fracturing of the self. It’s a stacked proposition that succeeds in fits and starts.
Earlier this year, the Montreal-based dancer/choreographer showed a preliminary version of the work at Baryshnikov Arts Center. Over time, the piece has evolved from a solo to a trio and now a well-suited duet, in which Stamos pairs beautifully with dancer extraordinaire Luciane Pinto.
The darkly lit Cloak opens with Stamos reading a scripted text, a kind of reflective inner monologue made public (he would have benefited from nuanced line readings). It then segues into a random, amusing conversation between Pinto (who has been munching carrots) and Stamos, his voice altered through a processor, allowing him to “morph” into different characters. Next, the duo flows through an interesting sequence of repeated, floor-based rolls with a clearly articulated, gentle, and pleasurable rhythmic quality, set to the live, recorded, and manipulated sounds of a sigh or a whack of the mic.
By turns whimsical and edgy, Stamos smartly addresses anonymity and the identity card in an episode where he dons about four layers of white head stockings. Using a simple marker, Pinto scribbles eye and smiley-mouth lines on the material. As the first mask is cast aside, another blank slate is revealed. Ultimately each layer is removed.
In an inventive use of video (by Dayna McLeod), either Pinto or Stamos stands behind a suspended screen, with only their legs showing—on one occasion, Pinto doing some pretty fierce ballet legwork. Each merges with projections of the other’s upper body, or at one point a metallic alien-appearing creature.
The problem with Cloak is its sketchiness. Ideas become diluted as the piece ensues. A section with the performers costumed in distorted black ninja bunny costumes comes and goes; the videos themselves lose their punch through repetition (a technical glitch the night I saw the performance is noted but didn’t alter my perspective); and Tomas Furey’s original electroacoustic score is a lulling wash of sound.
Stamos exploits a multi-tracked and fragmented structure, but his strongest material loses impact. He never fully flavors other sections, and, at least for now, masks his ambitions.