FRINGE 2017: 'FloatBrilliance'

This show is an ethereal and constantly shifting modern dance exploration of 'timelessness, a soft sternum and heart, and quirky gestural conversations between bodies.'

Four female dancers, clad in petal pink, enter the darkened Memorial Hall ballroom. In alternating duets and quartets, these members of Chicago’s dropshift dance (the individual dancers’ names are not provided) perform FloatBrilliance, an ethereal and constantly shifting modern dance exploration of “timelessness, a soft sternum and heart, and quirky gestural conversations between bodies.”

If it sounds heady, it is. It is hard to cut through to the substance behind FloatBrilliance. Relationships between the dancers are difficult to keep up with  one moment tentative, the next incredibly intimate. Sometimes instructive, other times impatient with one another. Tender, playful, distant. Are these women rivals, sisters, lovers? 

Individual moments are gorgeous. The quartet joins together for a fleeting moment of synchronicity. One dancer catches drops of water as strings pluck in the recorded soundtrack (“a dynamic tapestry of folk-inspired acoustic instrumentals, lo-fi electronica, and environmental sounds,” composed for the piece). However, I did not walk away with a sense of what I was being asked to feel, to question or to understand. FloatBrilliance is 52 minutes of pretty, but ultimately I could not figure out why I was supposed to care. 

The show’s description is not much more illuminating, explaining that the piece “explores honest physicality, how we embody fulfillment, and sense being whole.” I give them points for honesty — I was impressed by the immediacy of the eye contact that the dancers maintained with one another throughout, making FloatBrilliance feel like a piece they were truly performing in this moment, together. 

The provided description also uses the word “immersive,” which I felt misleading — the audience was incidental to this performance, excluded by that same intense eye contact between dancers. I expect an immersive experience to envelop me somehow and draw me in. This is definitely a piece I was watching from outside. 

If you attend FloatBrilliance, try to snag the front or second row — much of the performance takes place on the floor. It is worth being up close to admire the athleticism, the grace and the skill of the dropshift dancers, even if the “why” behind FloatBrilliance is elusive. 

The CINCINNATI FRINGE FESTIVAL continues through June 11. Find CityBeat reviews of 41 early performances here. For a full schedule and more info about Fringe,

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