Get ready for a distinctly American piece of multi-media artistry told in choreography, text and video projections by Artistic Director Jane Franklin of Jane Franklin Dance in Arlington, Va.
With music by David Schulman, Eva Schlegel and The Shadows, this dance extravaganza would make Choreographer Martha Graham and Composer Aaron Copland proud, as it is reminiscent of their 1940s collaboration, Appalachian Spring.
Performers Taryn Packheiser Brown, Emily Crews, Ken Hays, Nicole Y. McClam, Carrie Monger, Matthew Rock, Amy Scaringe, Rachael Scaringe, and Brynna Shank perform a dance, mime, and spoken-word cycle of stories.
Anchored by three dancers in blue plaid dresses, the performance highlights the immigrant experience in a timeless journey inspired by true events.
The ensemble numbers are meticulously choreographed so the dancers are both the river and the swimmers, the boaters and the boat. The viewer is lulled into the story by the movement of the three friends, one of whom is packed into a trunk to make the crossing. The score features sprightly, almost gypsy-sounding strings, handclapping, tambourine and whistling.
Suddenly, a group of khaki-clad border patrols enters, dancing with cardboard signs that match the corrugated tin wall projected onscreen. It has only a few eye-level peepholes into which would-be crossers of the Rio Grande are peering at the promised land.
“We are smaller than a spec, profoundly insignificant,” intones one of the dancers.
“We can ID you by facial recognition, fingerprint and retinal scans,” replies one the border patrols, and the action breaks into a kaleidoscope of dangerous, confusing pastiches, each nicely heralded by analog projections showing the featured dancers.
It is like synchronized swimming without the water, but there’s plenty of that in the lush soundscape and the paper wave designed by Susan Miranda and UpCycle Creative Reuse Center. What really sets Jane Franklin Dance apart is her collaboration with other types of artists. In this case they use an old-school overhead projector bolted into the booth to display video on a two-story screen. Lights are by Greta Daughtrey.
It is joyous experience, because even though the crossing is fraught with peril, it is also rife with promise, and in the end it is just plain fun to watch. There is even a actual treat in store for the audience, so sit close and let it Wash Over You.
Running Time: 60 minutes with no intermission.
Check other reviews and show previews on DCMetroTheaterArts’ 2016 Capital Fringe Page.
RATING: BEST OF THE 2016 CAPITAL FRINGE!