2019 Capital Fringe Review: ‘Little White Lies’

Four performers appear from unexpected places. Emerging from hallways, stairways and around corners with a rippling and tribal urgency, the movement of the dancers is steered by Y-shaped divining sticks. The four are on a search. The patrons are in the midst of this insistence.

The divining sticks seem an apt instrument to introduce Little White Lies, a movement-based work by Contradiction Dance Theatre that explores the complexities of truth. Dancers Krystal Collins, Jessica Denson, Kelly King, Erica Janko, and Erin White boldly personify guises from confrontational to suitably quirky-pleasant in the fifteen discreet sections of this community devised work.

Kelly King, Artistic Director and Choreographer, has gathered a strong artistic team. Light Design by Chris Curtis frames sections in near darkness or starkly reveals hints of Day-Glo in the textured costumes. In darkness, dancers are, at first, not clearly seen but are absolutely present. A sense of determination vibrates in the air, as they logroll across the stage, come to a place of support, then redirect in opposition. Dancers spool battery-operated fairy string lights. The shading of dark to light supports these simple gestures that are part lighting, part costuming, and part choreography, as is the case with the interwoven strand used in dancer Erica Janko’s nimble and precise “Glimmer” section.

Other times the fairy lights trace a clean diagonal of movement that travels, then settles to the floor. (In the Peacock Venue, it is difficult to see movement on the floor downstage or near the chairs. Even with seating on the first row of the risers, the sight line is somewhat blocked by three rows of chairs in front).

The performers navigate through a crisp hip hop or street style dance for three. Falls to the floor travel along with an interchange between performers that intones “everything’s fine,” “it’s cool,” or “it’s all good,” the nearly habitual comments uttered daily that may not always be true. A full bodied and luscious solo for Kelly King is impossibly supple yet sublimely strong. Angry defiance or themes of confrontation are realized with subtle interaction and keen inner dialogue. The Acting Coach is Ryan Sellars.

Music is by a range of artists; electronic, street, percussive and some relying on text, all clearly noted with precise detail in the program credits. Text is sometimes threaded through the soundscore, as with Notes on Lying by Adrienne Rich, or sung by the performers in Obsession, an original spin on a phrase of words you most likely hear every day.

We all seek the truth, but quite often a “little white lie” is all too tempting. Give in to the temptation and see Contradiction Dance Theatre. You may not know exactly where the performance is going or precisely where you are, but you can find your own truth as you travel along.

Running Time: 60 minutes, with no intermission.

Little White Lies, by Contradiction Dance Theatre plays through July 27, 2019, at St. Matthews Lutheran Church, 222 M St SW, Washington, DC. For tickets, call (866) 811-4111 or go online.

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