Waltz of Elementary Particles
Waltz of Elementary Particles
by Debbie Hoodiman of
The Waltz of Elementary Particles - reviewed June
not particularly subtle. The concept—our society’s obsessive
drive to find satisfaction from material possessions, electronics,
and success—is not particularly original. Anyone who reads
the press release can guess the basic subject matter that The Waltz
of Elementary Particles covers— a progression from innocent
childhood to frantic adulthood and a question of where we go from
sometimes, it’s all in the execution.
Waltz of Elementary Particles, conceived, choreographed, and directed
by Jessica Lanius, ten dancers work together to tell a very universal
story about how humans get caught up in values (success, money,
clothing, technology, etc.) that, when they are not put in proper
perspective, take away the pleasure of life. Using movement vocabulary
developed as an ensemble and strongly influenced by different theatrical
styles, including Viewpoints, the company members have created characters,
storylines, text, and dance to explore their theme.
(designed by Michael A. Reese) and sound (designed by John LaSala,
who also wrote original music) complement the piece, sometimes increasing
or decreasing the tempo of the action. There are also video sequences
(directed by Alexander Bruehl and edited by Ben Fraser) with images,
such as close-ups of a person’s face or people walking, that
section of Waltz seems to be about the calmness and innocence of
youth. Dancers emerge from the audience wearing beautiful firefly-lights
and flowing costumes (designed by Deirdre Wegner). The performers
move in a way that is slow and ethereal. Their movement becomes
more playful. They spin and jump and form groups. They create rhythm,
synchronize their movements, and seem to be having a grand time.
Under Lanius’s direction, they use all parts of the stage
and also the balconies on either side.
section introduces technology and begins to comment on how people
are changed by it. The dancers gather around television screens
and move from group to group in blue television light.
here, the piece progresses to a frantic pace. Actors speak in monologues,
creating short scenes addressing particular desires—from success
to money to something as simple as a taxi. Related images and video
sequences appear on a screen behind the actors. The music builds,
becoming louder and faster. The performers repeat each other’s
key phrases and movements, which creates an interesting effect of
uniting them. The show builds to a climax and crashes down and then
ends with a surprising denouement, which I will not reveal.
here is that it sounds rather predictable when you read about it.
makes this piece extraordinary is the genuine emotional experience
it elicits. (I hesitate to say that, because I fear that giving
that expectation to audience members may ruin it for them.) Watching
the dancers explore the human drive for success, the modern belief
in technology, the loss of free time, the constant drive for more,
I eventually saw that I was watching myself on stage. I realized
the universality of the theme and how this rare show successfully
fulfills one of the original purposes of theatre: catharsis.