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ISSUE 119 VOL 4 PUBLISHED 10/7/2005

Lingo dancetheater challenges reality

By Tim Rehborg
Opinion Editor

Friday, October 7, 2005

The St. Olaf dance department hosted dancers from the Seattle-based company Lingo dancetheater last week. The dancers guest-instructed advanced dance classes during their residency. They also rehearsed their own pieces, finishing the week with two performances of their traveling show, "“Relatively Real: What do you think you are?"”

The seven member company includes Dustin Haug ‘'02.

“Relatively Real,” choreographed and directed by KT Niehoff, premiered in Seattle May 2005. Niehoff is becoming a familiar name at St. Olaf, as she was on campus last spring doing another residency with the dance department which culminated in the performance of one of her pieces in Companydance’'s Spring Concert.

“Relatively Real” opens with a comedic bit in which the performers confuse the audience as to whether the show has actually started.

“I"’'m interested in the ways we view our identities and perceptions, explored in this piece through a certain movement aesthetic,”" Niehoff said during a question and answer session following Friday’'s performance.

Identity perception was a prominent element throughout the performances.

“"The piece comes in several different sections, each dealing with a different element of the notion of identity,"” Niehoff said.

A comedic yet thought-provoking interchange between dancers dressed stereotypically as cheerleaders and football players introduced the idea of gender identity and relationships.

Another section depicted identity in relation to society, the dancers becoming one huge organism functioning separately and yet together simultaneously.

Flashes of color, revealing shrouds and a world of different textures provided smooth transition between the sections of the piece. The costume changes were made in full view of the audience, dancers disrobing while facing the rear wall, further emphasizing the fluxuating identities each dancer displayed in the span of the night.

The other component of this piece'’s construction involved a movement aesthetic, a sensibility of the body Niehoff calls “the wiggle technique.” The dancers wiggled their entire bodies, conveying the freedom and life in the fluidity of our perceptions.

“Relatively Real” also integrated interesting choices of props, music and visual animation projected onto six large, white panels.

The panels were used in a series of movements concealing and revealing dancers. They also served as moving displays for a simple flash-based animation series of white stick figures descending and dancing on red chairs. The primarily electronic music was composed by Adam McCollom.

Brought here through the St. Olaf Artist Series, Lingo dancetheater infused students with enthusiasm for dance through their performances and participation in classes.

"“I am invigorated and so excited by what you'’ve taught us in class,”" Julia Langenberg '’06 told the performers. “"It'’s been really cool experiencing different voices in ways of moving, and it’'s really changed the way I look at my own movement in dance."”

The performance of “Relatively Real” transported its observers into a new world of identity and perception. The performances successfully conveyed Neihoff’'s vision of “creating a new dimension, a world, a night of experience for the audience.”

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