As a child, Tahni Holt spent countless afternoons in her mother's office, watching the neck-tied worker bees peck at computers, send faxes, and engage in the usual office repartee. The memory lingered into Holt's adult life. She successfully managed to avoid working in an office herself, but her newest creative endeavor draws on these memories of white-collar American business.
Island Desk is the spectacular new multimedia dance performance from Holt's Monster Squad, occurring in five short movements, one for each day of the workweek. Four principle dancers engage in a wildly physical routine within the walls of an abstracted office space, created by frequent Monster Squad collaborator Marty Schnapf. The general structure of each day remains the same, but within this framework, anything can happen. The dancers struggle and jerk their way through sexual dalliances and enraged fits just moments after herding around a futuristic water cooler. The stage rotates with each passing day, and the dancers take time to watch pelicans fly by their windows—all the dancers but Holt, that is. Holt's character remains detached from the main action, as she dances around the perimeter of the stage. Her movements mirror Angelle Hebert's dance inside the office, but Holt's are fluid, where Hebert's are based on collisions and falling—suggesting a liberated, parallel version of the trapped office worker.
Monster Squad has never been one to go it alone—artistic collaboration is part of their core ideology. Aside from Schnapf's impressive set design, Jayme Hansen of Birds of Prey and Fleshtone designed the costumes; Emily Bulfin of Video Minds created the ethereal videoscapes; and Brent Knopf of Menomena created the music.
Island Desk may be based on banal, structured environments, but the physicality of the choreography and the romantic nature of the sets, costume, and music conspire to remind audiences that passion frequently wears the mask of passivity.