Project O Presents…
On Saturday 11th March 2016, MDI had the pleasure of welcoming Project O and their performance VOODOO to the Make space. What an experience! The work offered an interactive site specific work that had all audience members buzzing. This is a performance in which I believe everyone should witness at some point, it allowed for audience participation and gave off a variety of vibes. Thus giving us an uncertain and confused feel. This always keeping us engaged and wanting more.
On entering the performance space, we were told to remove all our time devices, such as, phones and watches. These were then placed into black envelopes. From then, we knew we were in for a different and enlightening performance. When moving through, we were met by a man in a black cape, thick material that looked heavy and suspicious. Walking through we moved through a black curtain and into the actual dance space…not moving to our usual location within the Make Theatre. When seated in this dark location, on what looked like wooden benches, the thudding and heart beating music played with a projection of dates and information that flooded onto a black box cyclorama that sat within the space. Knowledge filled the room as the audience read the information, history repeated through this continuous flow of facts. The sound was clear and really added to the overall atmosphere.
Introducing a variety of sounds from top charts to Nina Simone, we were captured by the whole experience. The dancers draped in white cloaks that too looked heavy sat behind the projection, visible to the audience. Wearing sunglasses and with no expression on their faces, the performers gave a dark and mysterious feel, this really portrayed emotion and some chatter amongst the audience. Smoke began to fill the space, as the performers moved slowly as if portraying slow motion through the space. This beautifully executed and not an easy technique to portray for a length of time. The movement slithered across the floor moving down the middle they moved back to their beginning location.
As the performers moved into white bags, slinking inside, the layout and dance space was moved. This initiated the changing of the seating location of the audience. This was a very interesting technique that allowed for a change in audience perspective and allowed us to feel a connection with the performance as we moved. As the scenery moved, balloons became visible, another added feature and prop in which we became intrigued with the connection and movement to come.
The space design, costume and sound was detailed and complex, allow a lot to take in. Somehow, this really worked enabling our senses to awaken with this unique and original work. Another added aspect to the set design became apparent, as hanging scenery. Bones entwined in wire set in a frame gave further depth and connected with further props used within the space. This showed incredible complexity and thought, giving the audience something to look at no matter what angle you sat or lay. Carrying black bin bags around the space, the performers gave off a wicked vibe that tormented the audience. Emptying the bags into the space, bones spilled out, crashing and clicking onto the floor. This really connecting with the scenery within the space and the vibes given by the projection and the sound. The idea again linking to history, the bones representing what has been, and what may become.
Commands and spoken audio was created throughout the performance by the performers, really showing connection to the sound. The dancers moved around the space, touching and placing on audience members. Beautifully focused and executed, the performers moved and showed stillness, appropriately engaging with all. The spoken audio moved to singing as the performers followed the Whitney Huston song, moving with the notes, they produced long notes filling the space with sound. The further commands given throughout were, harsh and sudden, as if being in control of our actions we moved location and space. Thus following their commands. Unaware of time, the performance didn’t feel long as we interacted and the progression of the piece moved from section to section, always keeping us tangled within the work. Being told to focus on our breathing we carried out our own ‘small dance’ continuously through the space, now allowing the music to take us. Moving with the music we were able to go on our own journey through the space, changing sound from Rhianna, Ne-Yo and many more, we were given this opportunity to share the space. The technique of commanding the audience still present in the background was creative and well received. As the audience carried out further movement interaction both physically and mentally was established, the audience members became the dancers. As we moved with the music, our eyes remained closed, this the only negative. A command to ‘open our eyes’ would have developed our attachment to the performance, as so much material and projection was portrayed within this section. It would be a shame to miss this movement being gorgeously executed as we were stuck within our own movement. I enjoyed the movement section, however maybe just a little shorter to allow the audience to watch the movement being carried out. The material was seamless and fluid creating stunning positions and sweeping motions. As the dancers fell through the space catching and releasing, it moved with the sound and remained cohesive.
Again, moving back to commanding the space, a well-received technique, the dancers spoke the word ‘End…end’, repeated as they exited the area the audience were located. Alongside, video footage from a variety of films including ‘The Ring’, was projected onto the cyclorama that had been replaced in the space. Thus showing a cyclical approach within the performance, giving a clear ending to the work. This gave a ghostly feel, watching horror films, allowing us to be introduced to new features, techniques and a continuous fluidity of the theme. The work had people talking and very much interested in what had just happened, it was well received and perfectly executed.
The performance incorporated so many small gestures that allowed it to stand out from other performance work, including vodka shots handed out to the audience. This was seamless and gave an added sense of suspicion and theme. A brave performance that pushed dance boundaries, really reaching for new heights, the dancers gave us more and more. The performance incorporated such a variety of techniques and attributes, I believe it is a performance in which you must see for yourself to receive a true reflection and witness the atmosphere created. An incredible piece that was unique and new, something that has opened up a new world of movement and the showing of work. We thank Project O for their work VOODOO within the LEAP Dance Festival 2017. It was a fabulous experience that left me with a new perspective of movement material and techniques that could be used.