AFTER A FOUR-YEAR HIATUS, POV Dance is back. Formed by Mandy Cregan and Noel Plemmons (previously of tEEth), POV aims to change your experience of dance. Their mind-expanding new piece, 3x3, is a collaboration between a filmmaker (Patrick Weishampel), musicians (Katie Griesar and Luke Matter), and, arguably, a building.
The small audience is split into thirds; ushers lead the groups through the show, winding their way through the three integrated buildings of the historic Leftbank Project. (Now a community-minded space housing design studios and a range of nonprofits, Leftbank was once a machine shop for WWII planes.)
The presence of the usher is similar to the tour guide at a haunted house; the atmosphere of one recent show was ghostly. The first thing we saw was a dancer splayed on a staircase, lying stiff, like a victim at a crime scene. When the usher paused, the audience halted, and a hand emerged at the edge of a wall.
The music of Griesar and Matter involves creaky door sounds and soft wind chimes. The six dancers wear neutral colors; their pants are patched. The movement is sweeping, but also driven and physical—nearly acrobatic. The dancers feel like spirits left toiling in the building.
POV states their mission is to "demonstrate through the creative and choreographic process that our structural environment is full of opportunities." To that end, POV dancers use overhangs to do artful pull-ups. They drape themselves over banisters, sliding down on their stomachs. For most of the performance, you are within inches of the dancers—you can hear their clothes crinkle, and their feet swoosh across the concrete. And even though the atmosphere of the performance is a little haunting, the takeaway is more playful than spooky.
Above all, 3x3 is an inclusive performance. It feels like you're a part of something, like you're on a journey, seeing the Leftbank Project through dance. Contemporary dance is practically defined by its lack of definition: If a performance focuses on movement (or lack of movement), it's dance. Anything goes. This can be alienating and bewildering to an audience with preconceived ideas or traditional notions about how a performance should be structured, where it should be held, and what it should offer. POV Dance commits to the unexpected and the expansive, while bringing the audience with them.