Photo by David Bazemore
In a black box theater with a mulch-filled stage and fog-inhabited air, Vim Vigor Dance Company took its audience on what the program called a “full-bodied and psychotropic” journey through the minds of four campers who happen upon a not-so-dead body. Described as a “confrontation between the performers and their place in the universe,” the New York premiere of “Future Perfect” intertwined an eerie storyline and dialogue with choreography by Shannon Gillen that examines each dancer’s wildest imagination.
The evening begins with two female campers, Mel (Laja Field) and Ali (Tisch alum Emma Whiteley), who run into two male campers, Nate (Jason Cianciulli) and Ivan (Martin Durov). The first sequence of the evening, danced by Field and Cianciulli, establishes Mel’s attraction to Nate. Ali then interrupts after discovering a supposedly dead body next to the campsite. The group’s panic ensues in the next hectic sequence. The anonymous body (Rebecca Diab) turns out to be alive, but runs away while the others are sleeping. Determined to alert authorities, Ali sets out alone to find a forest ranger. Ali’s sequence symbolizes isolation from her peers who believe alerting authorities is foolish. With just three campers left, Mel and Nate finally get their alone time when a drunk Ivan stumbles off into the woods.
The last sequence of the evening is a figment of Ivan’s intoxicated imagination. The three girls, garbed in cultish, “The Village”-like garments, seduce Nate. Afterwards, the unidentified girl leads Ivan to a bright light emanating from the hole she was found in earlier.
With an ambiguous ending, the audience is left asking for more. Gillen’s choreography mixes aspects of modern dance, parkour and martial arts. The dancers execute the unique choreography with vigor, as the company’s name suggests.
The electronic score by Martin Durov alludes to work by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, known for his work on “Gone Girl” and “The Social Network.” Remixes of Smokey the Bear’s Wildfire PSA and Christmas classics interwoven into the score contribute to the show’s haunting quality. The set, also designed by Gillen, is straight out of a campy cult film from the ‘80s. The score, set and noir-esque lighting by Barbara Samuels work together to bring a “Blair Witch Project” atmosphere to the live stage, creating absolute brilliance.
The dancers do not hold back either when utilizing their setting. Oftentimes, the choreography calls for throwing mulch into the air. An entire sequence is done in the complete dark with only flashlights illuminating the choreography. Field, a standout of the evening, looks strikingly beautiful with her prolonged eye contact with the audience and wild abandon. Whiteley also stood out in her nude scene during the final sequence.
As the audience filed out of the theater, attendees described “Future Perfect” as “badass,” “rad,” and “unparalleled.” The dance theater group was exactly that and more.
You can catch Vim Vigor Dance Company’s “Future Perfect” at the Baruch Performing Arts Center through Feb. 11.
Email Ryan Mikel at [email protected]