3rd Law Dance/Theater’s “For Example”
A preview by Gwen Gray
For the first time in over two years, Boulder’s preeminent contemporary dance company, 3rd Law Dance/Theater, returns to the Dairy Arts Center stage, and it’s set to be a transformative reunion for the company, collaborators and audiences. The show, titled “For Example,” will take place April 22–24, 2022.
It’s fair to say, that through the ups and downs, the starts and stops, the heartbreaks and silver linings of the last two years, we’ve all made new discoveries about ourselves and have found new ways of doing things. As individuals and as an arts organization, 3rd Law, in particular, has adapted in inventive ways, staging performances in parking garages and on tiny outdoor stages, holding classes outside in parks, and embracing digital streaming and film mediums.
Who better, after all, to “pivot” gracefully than a dance company? All these forced modifications have resulted in a unique body of work, tokens of which have now been selected for the upcoming program.
Perhaps most exciting is an excerpted dance from the performance 3rd Law had been working on just as the Covid-19 pandemic set in. “Adaptation” is a teaser, of sorts, says artistic director Katie Elliott, from a full program on the topic of climate change that will debut this fall. She explains that the piece is a “satirical exploration of how our obsession with convenience plays a role in our planet’s crisis.” But don’t expect a dirge. To show the bizarre adaptations nature makes in response to climate change, the dances start off simple, even sweet, and then morph into Broadway tunes (Chicago’s “Mister Cellophane”) and power ballads (Starship’s “Nothing’s Going to Stop Us Now”). And for excerpted April performance, word is there will be curious costume elements, like a gown made of plastic shower curtains and a bouquet made of straws.
Two dances from the now-famous parking garage show are included. “You Are Here,” choreographed to the flitting Phillip Glass String Quartet #3 and “Car Stories.” This time, the latter will be presented as a dance film directed by L. Ashwyn Collins. The piece lends itself well to film, playing with cinema-ready themes of cars in a dim parking garage, lit only by the headlights. And through the filmmakers’ eye, the themes take on new meaning, with the camera positioned on the yellow stripe of the lane, while the dancers dart back and forth over the center line and between the cars under the pointed glare of the headlights.
Another film component will be a recording of Paul Fowler, who’s been a recent co-artistic director at 3rd Law and has a hand in all the musical components of the performance, filmed playing his composition “Geologies” under the lid of a piano, with chains, rocks and ping-pong balls creating astonishingly percussive and resonant sounds. The video will be projected as dancers perform live to his music.
One program that has particularly blossomed during the pandemic has been the Dance for Parkinson’s program, which Katie Elliott helps administer (alongside Lisa Johnston, the program’s director) and teach. Dance is well known for its therapeutic benefits to people with Parkinson’s, and going online during the pandemic allowed more people than ever to access the classes. Now, Elliott, who champions the value of artistic expression — not just movement — for the Dance for Parkinson’s participants, is including them in the show. The program dancers will be shown in a recording set to Vivaldi’s “Violin Concerto in B-Flat Major, RV 583: II. Andante.” in choreographic synchronicity with the company dancers, who will be live on stage.
In addition, the two Saturday performances will have an American Sign Language interpreter on stage to translate Elliott’s comments to the audience and the lyrics of a piece performed to Molly Drake’s “Little Weaver Bird.” Both ASL shows with interpreter will be on Saturday 4/24, at 3:00 pm and 7:30 pm.
In all, it’s a program that’s indicative of how Elliott is thinking about 3rd Law’s work these days. “You know, we decided not to shut down during the pandemic,” she says. “And on some level, I enjoyed how it forced me to think about performance in a different way. The traditional modes aren’t always accessible to everyone.”
How to Attend “For Example”
Dairy Arts Center
Friday, April 22 at 7:30pm
Saturday, April 23 at 3pm and 7:30pm
Sunday, April 24 at 3pm