Review: Offbeat X by BLiPSWiTCH
by David Glen Robinson
Offbeat X is the tenth edition of BLiPSWiTCH Movement’s presentation of invited collaborations in dance. This year’s one-day show was blessed with dead-solid perfect Austin weather on the grounds of the Curtain Theatre. The locale lies in the gallery forest of Ent-like native walnut trees on the shore of Lake Austin. The property backs to the bluffs and cliffs raising the observatory-topped towers of Lord British’s castle (Richard Garriott’s property). At one end of this Forest of Arden stands a fairy village of miniature playhouses and constructions, including a lighthouse, toy jail, and wooden fortress.
The walk-through performances, all with a limit of six minutes, began in the village. The producers of BLiPSWiTCH, Alex Miller and Taryn Lavery, reclined on the platform of a seemingly abandoned hand-operated merry-go-round, paint peeling, haunted by the ghost-voices of laughing children. The performers in contrast wore primary colors in complementary, flowing shapes. One might think: here are the children come back to the large toy, this as the performers rose flexibly to the work of turning the device and creating unison shapes. They did considerable work to create the movement of this improvised, turning stage. The pace of the dance changed with the speed of the contraption, quickening, slowing, allowing the dancers to come to rest on the stilled platform. Then they started it again, climbed all over it, waving the colors of the costumes. When it was over, I got it, at least for me. In the fairy village of dreams the dancers brought color back to the merry-go-round, becoming the colored ponies once more, dancing their lament for the absent children they once conveyed to joy.
The young bright star Oddalys Salcido performed in the nearby fortress, or castle, with percussionist Reese Maultsby playing in the open gate of the structure. Ms Salcido demonstrated expert technique while creatively operating and providing commentary on the nooks and crannies and catwalk of the construction. If nothing else she demonstrated the bright future that certainly belongs to her.
In a courtyard with two dark-painted metal statues, Anna Bauer created her choreography for the show with sound designer Fatih Omeroglu. His music was impressive, but Ms Bauer did not perform her own work. That was accomplished by Aidan Rodgers, who wore black, with drapings that clung to her slender form, but not tightly. Her movements were in the energetic and highly flexible style that owes a lot to hip-hop but isn’t quite the same. The style seems to be an advancing trend, several examples of which were shown in Dance on Film at the Austin Dance Festival last May. This style of movement requires much skill and control, which Ms Rodgers possesses in abundance. She added to that a highly expressive emotionality, so it became very clear that her dance was that of the impassive statues come to life, telling their stories in movement, perhaps crying out for liberation from their imprisoning fixity.
Celeste Camfield created a dance at an office table set in front of another building in the village. She danced with Katie Lowen and Oddalys Salcido, who seems to be everywhere. They started faces down on the table, sleeping. Then when Brett Marcom’s music began, they awoke and danced all around and over the table, energetically, in unison and in separate phrases. The dance seemed to be the inner turmoil of those who sit at information or customer service tables and whose minds and hearts are far, far, away. The dance was dreamy, clever, and highly skilled at the same time.
Erica Saucedo performed in an open grassy meadow. She danced to a song she loves, one composed and played by her musician partner, Bryan Smith. Despite the high grass that limited movement, Saucedo danced in exuberantly unrestrained fashion, showing assured mastery of technique. The image of her moving through and with nature at high, medium, and low levels was nothing short of inspiring. At the end, not one blade of grass clung to her flowing costume or limbs.
Alyson Dolan and her musical collaborator Drew Silverman found their stage in a very long meadow beside the lake shore. Silverman’s musical set-up, percussion, keyboards, and speakers, stood at one end of the meadow near the audience; and dancer Dolan started the piece from the far end, seemingly a quarter of a mile away. The dance became a quarter-mile crescendo of building movement and music phrases showing Dolan’s leitmotif of addressing every aspect of nature. At the same time, she found new abstractions, as with the pin-wheeling 21st-century pirouettes she executed as she neared the audience.
Ciceley Fullylove found a stage of grass with a high ceiling of overarching walnut tree branches. Her dance, with D’lonte Lawson, was full of powerful arm and leg gestures, most executed from wide, low stances. Excellent synthesizer accompaniment from musician Oolaf, combined with Fullylove’s dance created a strong, lasting impression.
Rachael Hanlon worked with musician-collaborator Topaz McGarrigle and dancer Hailley Lauren in the seating of the Curtain Theatre while the audience watched from the stage and the groundlings' pit. The ensemble gave the show’s strongest, multi-part jazz performance—music, dance, and poetry. The performers knew exactly what they were doing and exuded that confidence. They gave us all that plus alluring costumes, boldness, word-jazz poetry from McGarrigle, and clever surprises in a well-choreographed piece.
Back to the meadow. Anna Claire Brunelli collaborated with Henna Chou, musician, with dancer Celeste Camfield performing extra duties. The dance was largely a duet between Brunelli and Camfield working largely in unison to form shapes and phrases unlike anything else in the show. While this was going on Chou’s recorded soundtrack presented uncategorizable electronic music of deep fascination. The music and dance kept the interest high and fresh in the long walk-through afternoon event. Brunelli’s piece was a strong choice for the end of the dance portions of the show.
Throughout, Errin Delperdang danced in animation created by the multi-talented Lindsey Taylor. This work crossed several domains of artistic expression, the trend creating the mosaic appearance of 21st century arts, for which many artists are striving. Delperdang and Taylor gave us a solid example and another directional arrow to the future.
The Pelvis Wresley band performed as a post-show musical entertainment, with collaboration from Chelsea Pribble, who also provided the pre-show welcoming music.
BLiPSWiTCH shows again that they can organize and produce top-of-the-mark dance shows as well as performing in them. Continue to watch for their productions. They seem always to inspire with their arts.
7400 Coldwater Canyon Dr.
Austin, TX, 78730
One-time event, Oct 17, 2021