Animating Sculpture: Cary Bakers Mimesis at Triskelion Artsby John Merchant
Cary Baker, one of the five choreographers in the all-female choreography collective, Kick|Stand|Dance, presented a new work combining dance and sculpture in December at Triskelion Arts. Fittingly titled Mimesis, the piece explores the relationship between the two arts with the dance passages extending and mimicking the sculpture.
My viewing of Mimesis began by entering the rear entrance of the performance space proceeded by a dramatic ride up a freight elevator lined with candles. As I reached the top, somewhat breathlessly, I received a program and ticket and was then ushered across a threshold— a curtain behind which lay the first part of Baker’s dancescape. Here, in a gallery-like setting, several waist-high, freestanding plaster-cast figurines, as silent and expectant as Easter Island monuments, were dispersed across the room. Two miniature boxes lined with grass held smaller figurines that resembled the larger sculptures. Here, among the sculpture, the audience congregated and was offered a foreshadowing of the dance to come.
As Mimesis opens, three women, elongated by lengthy skirts, enter concealing three other women who eventually emerge from under the folds of fabric. Now six figures take up the space— each resembling the sculptures in the foyer. And, similar to the small boxes, the stage is also lined with grass. As expected, and hence the title, the movement here mirrors or mimics the sculpture in the foyer. The dancers’ gestures are contained rather than free and flowing. It’s as if the sculptures had just sprung to life. Yet, the contained movement is punctuated by moments of release. In a repeated movement that becomes a kind of motif, a dancer will suddenly push her chest forward, neck and arms thrust back as if she had just been shot. There are also moments of flight in Mimesis, with dancers in harnesses soaring through the air in sweeping arcs.
In Mimesis, Baker works with a form she calls "kinetic sculpture" and she achieves stunning visual effects which, with the help of Gamble Staepfli, make it possible to transform the performance space into an otherworldly environment.
Next up for Kick|Stand|Dance is Layla Childs and Sonya Robbins’ BROQUE at Triskelion Arts, March 5-7th and 12-14th. For more information call 718-599-3577.
JOHN MERCHANT is a contributing writer for the Rail.