Sometimes, with contemporary dance, a show is so peculiar or discordant that you wonder what it’s getting at. Often that wondering is exactly what it’s getting at. Such is the case with choreographer Tahni Holt’s Sun$hine, which runs through this weekend at BodyVox. It’s tough to synthesize the performance into words, because it’s so marked by visuals. The outfits are bedazzled: a black, sequined tracksuit—plus gold-sequined Converses—contrasts with a costume made of cardboard wings. The crew is small, comprised of three dancers (Robert Tyree, Lucy Yim, Suzanne Chi) and two musicians (Tom Thorson, Kyleen King), who at times throw themselves across the stage and at times cross the stage in dirge-like slowness, often to the sound of grinding digital loops (also live violin). Here’s a trailer, which gets at the mood pretty well:
Holt admits that it's a performance which will “try the viewers’ patience.” The opening segment is seven minutes of silent dancing by a single performer (the only set is a roughly 10-foot-tall wall of cardboard boxes). Some of the outfits look silly—a long turquoise skirt plastered with sequins and other bright scraps, like a pack rat’s den that became apparel—but all the motions are done in total earnestness and sincerity. The piece has gone through multiple iterations, with a performance at the Art Gym, On the Boards in Seattle, and Movement Research in New York. This is the first time Sun$hine has been presented in its entirety. From the program, Holt writes, “I am interested in observing and challenging how viewers relate themselves to what they experience. I am interested in creating performative structures that, as a dancer/performer, are challenging and at times impossible.” Challenging, yes. But also distinct, memorable, and decidedly itself.
Tonight’s performance begins at 8 pm. Get tickets here.