Trip Dance Theatre

January 6, 2006

Shannon Harris and Adriana Mitchell in
Beneath the Water.
Photo by Ron Bartlett, courtesy TRIP Dance Theatre.


Trip Dance Theatre
Unknown Theater, Hollywood, CA

January 6–8, 13–15, 2006

Reviewed by Victoria Looseleaf


In its 10-year history, Los Angeles-based Trip Dance Theatre, under the direction of Monica Favand, has created a formidable body of work, including 11 evening-length productions that often incorporate video and live music. Favand’s commitment to original music has resulted in a partnership with guitarist Charlie Campagna, the director of Trip Music Ensemble, that continually ups the artistic ante with alluring, often hallucinatory soundscapes that comfort and challenge dancers and audiences alike.

In “Breath and Bone,” a collection of six dances from 2003 and 2004 that Favand says were inspired by “our connection and disconnection with our bodies and primal memories, distraction versus being in the moment, and layered vocal work,” the choreographer presents some very pretty tableaux. Unfortunately, repetition and an overriding aloof quality ultimately undermine the work.

The program opened with Beneath the Water. Shannon Harris, Andriana Mitchell, and Favand pitter-pattered across the stage in long silk hoop gowns (made by Favand, who won a 1997 Lester Horton Award for costume design), rhythmically chiming small elephant bells, all to the backdrop of Carol Gehring’s aquatic video. Swooping arms aped sea anemone imagery, but chaos ensued as the trio, coughing and gasping, fell helplessly to the floor.

Above Water
found the group spastically crawling, contemplating fingers and splayed toes, occasionally tossing in a head or shoulder stand between series of unison turns, this time in capris and tops.

Happily, the intoxicating live vocals of Jessica Basta and Moira Smiley enhanced Ups and Downs. The three dancers, joined by Denesa Chan, Tomas Tamayo, and Taryn Wayne, spouted snippets of text, accompanied by heavy breathing, yogalike warrior moves and Asian-influenced posturing—a bent knee, an arched foot—before letting loose with unison paroxysms of laughter.

The 30-minute Body, also with live vocals, text, and a Gehring video, featured the troupe reminiscing on childhood as well as bemoaning the aches and pains of a dancer’s life. Splitting into pairs, couples held each other, mournful one moment, rejecting grief the next, in a push-pull of emotions that also left a choreographic gap. One hopes that in future, Favand, a visually striking dancer with good ideas and an innate sense of theatricality, will take a more heartfelt journey with Trip. See