Light Moves Bring Light to Life

The title for Margaret Jenkins' latest production, Light Moves, works on a number of levels. For one, it plays on the fact that the show features moving paintings by multimedia artist Naomie Kremer that are projected onto a number of panels on-stage. The title also alludes to the light moves of the dancers who elegantly sweep across the stage.

On the most basic level, however, Light Moves is a statement: light, does indeed, move - and in a multitude of manners that are showcased in this captivating performance.

Light Moves conveys the patterns of light differently in the same way that one experiences the light cycle in life. A calm, warming light is expressed as such during a segment where the dancers movements are slow and gentle, while the backdrop portrays a beautiful arrangement of colors resembling a field of vibrant flowers. The scene eventually switches to what resembles a harsh ocean during a storm, and the dancers become aggressive and agile.

The music, composed by Paul Dresher, completes the live package. Dresher's score perfectly accompanies the atmospheres created by Jenkins' choreography and Kremer's art through its ability bringing the collaboration element full circle. There is so much movement on stage - a number of dancers shift in and out of the scene while the projections behind them consistently move as well. It would seem that the show lacks a singular focal point - not unlike light itself - but the Paul Dresher Ensemble gives the performance context. Sort of like the old idiom, "If a tree falls and no one is there to hear it, does it make a noise?" - Dresher's score is the backbone to the performance.

The collaboration effort between these three visionaries is perfectly syncopated, a perfect balance of left and right brained thinking. Jenkins' choreography appears to be very interpretive, but under the surface is precise down to the smallest denominator. During one segment, the backdrop is nearly all black with an opening of light in the center. The dancers on stage mirror the opening, as if they are contained, trapped in the light - and as it begins to open up, the dancers begin to spread, like light, about the stage.

Towards the end of the show, a recording of dialogue comes on and the line, "We saw what we heard and we heard what we saw," is repeated. This essentially sums up the experience the audience endures through the duration of Light Moves. Each vital component: Paul Dresher's score, Naomie Kremer's moving art, and Jenkins' choreography, are all dependent on one another to deliver the full, perfect package.

Seeing this show reminded me of the first time I saw Cirque du Soleil. I was entranced by the music and tripped out sets and atmospheres, and amazed at the feats the performers were able to pull off before my eyes. This show had a similar effect. It drew me in with its phantasmagoric settings and the dancers impressed me with their passion and precision. However, where the former focuses on the appeal to sights, Light Moves poses the question of "What did you feel" on the audience.

It is near impossible to see everything during the show. That is not necessarily a bad thing. There is so much to see, just as there is so much light in the world. It is impossible to take it all in, but what you do take in is what is important.

The experience of Light Moves is not that uncommon from a piece of abstract art. This is a show that each audience member will experience differently. The take-away that clung to me was that light is not just something that simply happens - rather, it is something that is alive. Light is alive as it cascades onto something beautiful as it calms the soul. It's alive as it shows us something harsh and disturbing. It is a presence that can be felt and missed when gone. Light Moves, simply stated, brings light to life.