Carmen Caceres/DanceAction’s Welcome to Imagi*Nation: The Trilogy is a “choose-your-own-adventure dance theater interactive efficiency” that empowers audiences to “change the course of (imaginary) historical past.” On the heart of the present is a battle between two neighboring nations whose boundary consists of a row of empty five-gallon water jugs, the presence of which gives the look of there being two separate levels. Different plastic drink bottles litter the house, organized by sort, they usually seem to kind the borders of the nations.
Every nation consists of three dancers, and every dancer appears to have a counterpart throughout the water jug border (e.g. two in energy, two bourgeois or center class, and two working class). We’re informed that our enter will decide the result of Nation A and Nation 1’s relations. The message is loud and clear: our selections matter. “Let the sport start.” Life and politics are akin to a recreation.
Dancers in colourful (considerably mismatched) costumes are scattered throughout the stage, two “royal” figures positioned on the stage’s greater tier; one dons fur and spins round in an workplace chair whereas the opposite proves her the Aristocracy with (the admittedly drained trope of) arms formed right into a crown above her head. A female-presenting dancer creeps across the entrance of the stage, seeming to spy on the motion that’s unfolding above.
A lot of the piece is task-based. Dancers string collectively groupings of three cans by sort, cowl the tops with tin foil, choose them up and drop them off elsewhere, typically into trash luggage. This course of, which is essentially facilitated by the dancers who appear to characterize the working class, is ambiguous in reference, however we do get the sensation that every object and process actually represents one thing particular to the characters.
The music may be very stop-and-go, and the dancers largely stay on stage all through the piece, frozen in place after they aren’t dancing. The motion vocabulary is primarily calm and angular, working inside a postmodern aesthetic, and there may be average use of facial features all through the piece. A lot of the choreography is coordinated, however not in unison.
Viewers members on stage left belong to Nation A and people on stage proper are members of Nation 1. The primary real interactive second (which, like the remaining, is accompanied by a sort of elevator music) invitations us to place foil on the stage to assist decide: if stage left collects extra foil, they steal Nation 1’s sources; if stage proper finally ends up with extra foil, borrowing happens. Theft wins out, and the bottle wall thickens in a frantic cacophony.
One other process asks us to vote for or towards persevering with to construct the wall. The viewers opts to halt wall development in favor of organizing sources, however in some way it looks as if the dancers are defying our vote. I begin to assume, “Perhaps my vote doesn’t truly matter,” which isn’t solely shocking on this context — the place we’ve been explicitly informed that our voices actually do matter — however makes me consider the helplessness that’s usually felt within the face of “actual” political conditions.
Immediately, “E-LEC-TION!” pops up on the projector and there’s a dance-off amongst the candidates. It’s a bit tacky, however we’re rewarded by attending to forged a poll to assist resolve who will lead our respective nations.
Each incumbents win the election, however then there’s a battle inside Nation A, a coup of types. Our expectations as voting members hold getting defied, which seems like a well-known story. We don’t even have the facility, which is concurrently a compelling parallel to “actual life,” however irritating within the context of the invented world of Imagi*Nation, which promised to be extra honest. It does, nonetheless, look like the brand new management arrange includes extra cooperation between the nations.
One other process invitations audiences to partake in paper boat folding, however we don’t hit our quota so the nations get no healthcare. Whereas lots of the interactive components of the piece are satisfying, I can’t assist however want that the supplies appeared extra related. Why all of those recyclables? What does folding paper need to do with healthcare? When the viewers is given brief reply inquiries to reply by way of QR code, our responses are briefly displayed on the projector, however the dancers do nothing with them, the real interactiveness of the work step by step fading out because the present progresses.
Immediately, one of many “working class” dancers breaks by into the opposite nation earlier than exiting the house down the middle aisle between the pews. She then joins the dancer who was spying within the opening scene (who has since been MIA) in a seemingly “overseas land” that’s displayed on the projector. Are they in exile? In the meantime, the wall between Nations 1 and A is being creatively disassembled, and supplies are rearranged on the stage. The motion of the dancers on the projector has extra groove and groundedness, but in addition feels a bit contrived in its “tribal” vitality and could possibly be extra refined.
The ultimate interactive second of the piece invitations the viewers to assist “rebuild” Nation 1A (or A!?) which has apparently joined collectively to kind one nation. Most individuals rise up to assist whereas the dancer who spied initially frantically unfolds paper boats which might be scattered between the pews, revealing letters written on them. This part feels a bit over carried out and disingenuous.
There’s a confrontation between the members of Nation 1A and the “overseas” dancers utilizing the entrance pews––an curiously site-specific athletic battle scene that includes some floorwork. Ultimately, the papers reveal phrases like Senses, Concepts, Ideas and Photographs. It’s unclear what precisely we’re purported to make of this.
Imagi*Nation has many distinctive strengths; it’s actually interdisciplinary and experimental, demonstrates a formidable command of storytelling by motion, and brings expertise and stay efficiency collectively to productively develop the piece’s narrative. It does, nonetheless, go away some questions unanswered. For one, the allusions to Spanish language together with closing with a Spanish sentence are unclear. Why are we handed a Spanish pamphlet initially of the piece, and what’s the relevance of together with an extra language right here and there? And once more, what do the bodily supplies need to do with the concepts being put ahead? The piece is sort of too bold, however I a lot choose ambition to a different reiteration of the identical, which Imagi*Nation actually was not.