Bridgman|Packer Dance uses video technology to enhance their dancing's impact.
There are only two of them, but when Bridgman|Packer Dance take the stage, they appear to be a multitude.
That’s because the duet, a married couple, are masters of video technology. Like many choreographers, they use it to create an every shifting scene. But that’s just for starters. They project moving images onto their costumes and skin, which confuses the real with the imaginary. The video also multiplies their presence into infinity. It adds physical and emotional depth to their dances because they make seen what most dancers and dances can only imply.
This delightful duo, no strangers to the Capital Region, made a stop on Friday night at The Egg. They performed two of their best – “Under the Skin” and “Remembering What Never Happened.”
The opening piece, to a pulsating electronic jazz piece by Ken Field, starts off frenetic. While watching projected letters, numbers and symbols rise onto a backdrop, Art Bridgman would suddenly appear in the center of it all. And then so too would Myrna Packer. And then they would suddenly disappear or did they? Their real and video images of themselves combined into a fascinating stew that left viewers constantly guessing.
When they were together, they engaged in what they were best known to do – their own brand of contact improvisation. They would run at each other, collide and pose – Packer often upside down – a leg or arm shooting skyward. But there were many fluid moments where they embrace and glide as smoothly as ballroom waltzer.
Yet they are also solid soloists whose musings, which could be as simple as a running dash or a collapse to the floor, enchant because they are doubled, tripled, quadrupled, etc.
“Remembering What Never Happened,” with a variety of music, slows down the pace and explores the fallibility of memory. Cast into a rocky landscape, the two toss and tumble, trying to escape what appears to be a dangerous descent.
The music, ranging from Maurice Ravel to Etta Baker, is overlaid with echoing voices speaking of the exploit. It feels mysterious, risky and beautiful. And really, it couldn’t be so without the video – the third important partner in this collaboration between technology and bodies.
Kudos are due to Bridgman|Packer Dance video designers Peter Bobrow and Jim Monroe in “Under the Skin” and technology designer Phillip Gulley in “Remembering What Never Happened.” They make magic.
Do you know what a Kegel is?
That was the first thing Sara Juli asked her Skidmore College audience on Saturday night. And then she proceeded to demonstrate in her laugh-out-loud one-woman show, “Tense Vagina: an actual diagnosis.”
A Kegel for those who didn’t know, myself included, is an exercise to strengthen the pelvic muscles to avoid incontinence. It’s a condition Juli’s character suffers from, a symptom of her tense or spastic vagina.
Yet who could blame her for having a tense vagina – she’s a working mom.
The set was strewn with objects that scream Mommy -- a dollhouse, a Barbie karaoke machine and various stuff toys. And like the mom she is, Juli started by laying down rules of behavior while passing out snacks.
“You can have as many as you want, but you can have no more than two snacks, two snacks. After you are done, you have to keep your wrapper, keep your wrapper and throw it out later. If you can’t keep your wrapper, give it to the person sitting next to you. If they don’t want it, come up here to the garbage I placed here. I placed it here for you. I’m not going around picking up after you. If I see one fucking goldfish on the floor,” she said in a rapid-fire patter like a frazzled mom talking to a toddler.
The show was a mix of maniac vocalizations, pelvic floor exercises and crazy audience interactions. She dashed about the crowd, combing hair, blowing a nose and snuggling. The audience members were her children whom she nurtured as much as she scolded.
At one point, her Kegel exercises required the use of a vibrator, which she has the audience pass around.
“Don’t worry, I washed it before the show,” she said. “Don’t stick it in your ear.”
As audience members handed it around, giggling, she reluctantly took the rest of us through the step-by-step medical instructions for the vibrator. It was hysterical.
She then set up a garden of vibrators – of all shapes and colors – that hummed along as she tended them.
Juli’s plight was comically enhanced by her facile facial expressions and her 1950s mom apparel – a circle skirt with tulle petticoat dressed with heels and apron. Imagine Donna Reed with kids screaming “Mommy” a 100 times a day while “Farmer in the Dell” plays over and over in her mind as she tries to do deep breathing exercises on the floor.
While there was not a lot of dancing, Juli moved frenetically. Jabbing or slicing arms and legs expressed her worry, stress and anxiety that finally came to an end.
Keleging conquered incontinence and Juli and the kids lived happily ever after.
If you missed Saturday’s show, “Tense Vagina: an actual diagnosis” will be repeated at 7:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 5 and 6, at the Performing Arts Center at the University at Albany. Tickets are $20 and $15 for students, seniors and UAlbany faculty and staff. Tickets can be purchased by calling 518-442-3997 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.