Shadows and light in Luminarium Dance's "Spektrel"
The Boston Globe
October 29, 2015
CAMBRIDGE — In the dance world these days, making it to your fifth season is no small achievement. And Luminarium Dance Company, which was founded in 2010 by Merli V. Guerra and Kimberleigh A. Holman, has not just endured, it has created 51 original stage works and is host to an annual “24-Hour ChoreoFest.” The company’s name alludes to the founders’ backgrounds in theater lighting and video projection, but Luminarium also creates installations and makes films.
“Spektrel,” a program being presented at the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center, comprises four works, two by each founder. Guerra’s “re|connect” finds Gabby Pacheco being scolded by four other women for dirty laundry, forgotten birthdays, and not filing her taxes. Left alone, she reconnects with her footy-pajama’d inner child, who appears as a video image (adorable 4-year-old Raeden Veino) on the huge backdrop of sewn-together sheets that serves as a projection screen. Wondering whether the guy she met Friday will call (these and other thoughts are delivered by Amy Mastrangelo from the balcony of the performance space) gives way to the freedom of a child’s dancing. When Pacheco’s four tormentors reappear, she winds up on top of the heap.
Competition vs. cooperation is a theme throughout the evening. In Holman’s “rabbit hole cycles,” Nikki Girroir is the outsider of a quintet of women who, with marching-band music in the background, could be bored cheerleaders. After an intense scrutiny of the lighting, the other four slip behind the backdrop and Girroir dances with their shadows. When the backdrop is pulled down and the quartet return, Girroir is sometimes their prisoner, sometimes their leader. At the end, they all disappear, taking the lighting with them.
Set to Bach piano selections, Holman’s “Getting There Is Half the Battle” is less enigmatic. A trio — Guerra, Mastrangelo, and Brittany Lombardi — struggle to reach a trio of chairs downstage left, and they do, working with and against one another and then fighting over the best seat. From there a dance tries to develop, but Mastrangelo keeps getting distracted by modern technology; at one point she’s taking selfies with her iPhone. “Getting There” doesn’t really get anywhere, but the journey is fun.
“Spektrel” concludes in a spooky vein with Guerra’s “Phoenixial Cycle,” which wraps Chun-jou Tsai in 40 yards of black satin. She rises like the mythical phoenix from this figurative representation of ashes, lifted by a tall, unseen figure (Matthew Kyle, the program’s only male performer) who’s enveloped in the skirt. Once she frees herself, three women surround her as if she were a tribal goddess, a ritual dance ensues, and red feathers rain down upon them. Finally the women envelop Tsai again in the skirt, and the piece ends as it began.