Serial killers fascinate artists. Be it their shadowy psychological motivations or their unique and extreme condemnation at the hands of society, they occupy a prominent symbolic station in the eyes of all onlookers; they're both sacred and monstrous, blissfully infected with the dark human wilderness that rests beneath the order of civilization.
The new Theory 1:dance company contributes to society's ongoing exploration of serial killers with their performance of ÉHe Was Costuming Angels. Choreographed by Tracy Broyles (who presented work in 10 Tiny Dances, and has danced with Monster Squad), the piece charts the development of a killer in a ritual display of frenetic, psychologically charged gestures. The killer's journey, danced by the visceral and expressive Meshi Remijio Chavez, unfolds in three parts, and is derived from a montage of quotes from famous sociopaths. In the first, the killer is ushered into the world by an unloving mother, and becomes infected with madness; in the second, he carries his anguish into a relationship that ends in murder; and in the third we witness the mortifying consequences of his actions.
The movements of the five dancers effect a palpable dialogue between jerking animal violence and refined, civil grace. This skillfully communicated physical struggle makes the killer's conflict inescapably human. The dancers are committed to navigating the jagged emotional landscape of the "criminal" and invite us to explore a cautious empathy with his murdering heart.
Angels is short and dark. The human characters are dressed in simple street clothes, while the dancers concerned with expressing the psyche are wrapped in winsome, otherworldly rags. Throbbing, war-like percussion accompanies each gesture, stripping it to its most raw connotation. The music is well-integrated, providing the dancers with momentum and informing the piece with macabre, schizophrenic color.
Replete with raw physicality and psychological lures, Angels is a transformative piece. The choreography showcases a company capable of impressive rapport and energy, and a disciplined conceptual drive.