Virginia Hagood balances atop Stephen Brown in Marina Harris’s The Box.
Photo by Kip Harris, courtesy Repertory Dance Theatre/Marina Harris
Marina Harris, in Conjunction With Repertory Dance Theatre’s LINK Program & Dance Theatre Coalition
Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center
Salt Lake City, Utah
January 18?21, 2001
Reviewed by Jessica Romine Peterson
The introspective, thought-provoking choreography of independent choreographer Marina Harris returned to the stage in The Box, which examined the meaning of the stage and the performance experience through the eyes of eight people. It was the third piece Harris has staged through the LINK program of Utah’s Repertory Dance Theatre, which donates space and helps arrange state and local funds for emerging artists.
Harris choreographed the hour-long performance to reflect how the stage can mean different things to different performers, allowing the audience to consider the performers’ lives both in and outside of the theater. The choreography thoughtfully explored the interaction among the performers sharing center stage.
Harris’s evening-length work was comprised of 15 sections: RDT Artistic Director Linda C. Smith danced with former RDT dancer Stephen Brown in the second section, called “the choreographer.” Brown dominated most of Smith’s movements as if he were the demanding choreographer, placing her in and out of positions, and moving her around onstage as she remained silent and apathetically compliant. Later, as Smith shamelessly gallivanted about the stage wearing a black magician’s cape in “capework,” it became evident that she had regained control. For that brief moment, she relished the stage lights pouring down on her and then, in a surprising collapse to the floor, her solo performance ended.
Tandy Beal appeared shortly thereafter and roused Smith. The two relinquished the stage to the elegant Virginia Hagood, who danced “the floor,” with an exacting elegance that hinted at her former career as a Ballet West dancer. Hagood made several mad dashes offstage throughout The Box, only to periodically reappear, clearly intoxicated by the power of performing.
To Kristoffer Jacobson, the stage was no more than a corner in his living room. Jacobson stayed seated in a metal foldout chair reading the newspaper. Sporadically, he spoke to himself and to any of the other performers onstage that cared to listen. Reciting a monologue he wrote himself, Jacobson described a morbid article about a young girl found dead, tied up in a basement. “Is it cold in here?” Jacobson asked frequently, underscoring the story’s chilling effect. The stage was a solitary place where he vented his vexing thoughts.