Zoe | Juniper Jumps to the Doris Duke Theatre
Dance review by Bess J.M. Hochstein
Photos: Christopher Duggan
Seattle-based zoe | juniper is a young multi-disciplinary visual and performing arts company headed by the husband and wife team of dancer/choreographer Zoe Scofield and photographer/video installation/sculptural performance artist Juniper Shuey. The company made its Jacob’s Pillow debut in 2006 on the Marcia and Seymour Simon Performance Space, popularly known as the Inside/Out stage, with there ain’t no easy way out. As has happened over the years for such choreographers as David Parsons and Azsure Barton, zoe | juniper made the leap from Inside/Out to inside the Doris Duke Theatre, taking time along the way to develop A Crack in Everything, in part during a Creative Residency Program at the Pillow in September.
Its creators say A Crack in Everything is based on The Oresteia, but a casual audience will see nothing of Aeschylus’ tragedy in the work, beyond the gold-flecked costumes which call to mind post-modern productions of ancient Greek literature. What the audience will encounter is a surreal, ambitious production in a multi-layered, shifting environment that starts out with the stage divided into several worlds – behind the scrim, in front of the scrim, and on the scrim, which serves as a screen for projections, reflections, shadowplay, as a canvas for an extended section of scrawling in red pen, and as a medium of interaction between realms.
Layers of this frontal scrim fly off the stage or up to hover above in a production that also makes dramatic use of bold lighting changes and an evocative, often jarring soundscape incorporating electronic noise, chimes, and German lieders. There is little pedestrian in the movement vocabulary, and, indeed, little human; the work boasts its own dance language that is gravity-bound, sometimes otherworldly, sometimes insectoid, at one point canine, and always uncomfortable looking. There’s a surprising, memorable bit with a red chord that looks like a laser beam. There’s even a creepy bug-like/alien creature who appears on stage and threateningly looms over the action. If you are looking for something new in dance, something that goes way beyond bodies moving across space and even beyond dance theater and performance art, this could be just the ticket.
zoe | juniper in the Doris Duke Theatre
Now through July 24
Jacob’s Pillow, Becket, MA