Saturday, October 29, 2016

Review: Dancing with The Loons!

By Kaila M. Stokes

The Loon is a funky dance-theater piece that makes for an all-around enjoyable evening.  There is a narrator, Robert M. Johanson, and then dancers that physical tell the story. Don’t get caught up in following the story so much as just enjoying each flick of the wrist, twitch of the foot, and topic.
The narrator asks the audience “what is time?” His monologue then consists of a rant about time being the measure of lives and time being how one perceives the world all while two performers have an intimate dance. The next topics include gender roles in the home, the monotony of life, aliens, and the loon (a bird).  The entire piece is based on “voices of the loon” put out in 1980 by the Audubon Society. As all of these interesting stories and narrations are happening the dancing almost gets more manic increasing the audiences pulse. Then at a climax of emotions the narrator loses his mind slightly going into a dance party with the other dancers. There are moments when characters break and they acknowledge this as being a show, the narrator breaks the 4th wall throughout, and the dancers break the wall with the narrator constantly. It is interesting to see the relationships on stage change and develop. As an audience member, it allows one to feel the light-heartedness of the piece.
Robert M. Johanson, the narrator, was a powerful voice that had the audience drooling over his every word. His presence on stage was undeniably captivating and it didn’t really matter if what he said made sense – the audience ate up every word.  The dancers were beautiful, each one unique in character and physicality. The center of the stage was utilized mostly in this black box style room. The other areas of the stage could have been utilized more when it was just a duet on stage. Those areas were only used when everyone was on stage at once.
The lighting, by Jay Ryan, made the piece very fun. The lights were full of enthusiasm themselves! As the pace and tempo increased – so did the lights. As the narrator became more and more unhinged – so did the lights. And when the dancers brought the story back to the reality of the room – so did the lights. The projections by Kaz PS were very unique, but not nearly utilized enough for the story telling. They acted as more of a backdrop or set replacement than a tool to guide the audience.
The Loon was a fun creative dance experiment sprinkled with theater that had amazing artists on top. This show has another weekend so take some friends and see this hour long commentary on life through the eyes of dance and storytelling! Make sure to congratulate the creators and performers for their courage (Alexa Andreas, Kelly Bartnik, Sunny Hitt, Annie Hoeg, Eva Jaunzemis, Robert M. Johanson, Vanessa Koppel, Trevor Salter, and Dan Safer).

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