Two local dance innovators return to the stage this weekend with new works that mix movement with set and costume designs integral to their performances. Dancer/choreographers Lisa K. Lock and Michael Medcalf share a double bill with visually striking pieces at Cleveland Public Theatre's Big [BOX] series.
Lock's Concentric Cycles examines the role of fate in different incarnations in a woman's life. Her costume —especially its enormous, blood-red train, with black seams meant to resemble veins — is a key component of the piece. Designed and constructed by Russ Borski, the fabric serves as metaphor and set as well as costume.
As the piece unfolds and the fabric unravels, portions of the train are revealed to be era-specific dresses that Lock wears to indicate new characters. Each has to deal with Fate, performed by Amy Compton. Fate's characters are distinguished from one another by their movement as well as their music. Lock wanted to be sure that they "moved very, very different from one another." The accompanying music is varied too — from opera to electronic, Marlene Dietrich to Grace Jones.
Medcalf's multimedia Dirt follows the abbreviated journey of one man's life and death. Accompanied by live music composed and performed by percussionist Nichole Bailey, it also features projected video imagery by Creative House Studios, using green-screen technology.
Medcalf — founder and former artistic director of Cleveland Contemporary Dance Theater — says the piece is his first foray into performing and choreographing as a solo artist, his first experiment with green-screen technology and his first collaboration on an original composition with a musician.
He says he created the dance with little concern for what people might expect of him. It discards familiar steps for a personal movement alphabet, using different body parts to spell out words and sentences from Kahlil Gilbran's The Prophet. Over that foundation and a projected, butoh-esque figure — himself, painted and dressed in white — he piles layers of intent and emotion.