Maps (Review)

Eight dancers perform on a bare stage at Know Theatre,backed by a large white projection screen on which simple animation (byMam-Luft & Co.) plays out.

May 30, 2013 at 7:59 am

Jeanne Mam-Luft and Susan Honer have created a dance piece about finding your way. In the program for their Fringe production, Maps, they write, “Maps and the act of mapping are used to help us find and define where we are: but what if we want to get lost?” They add that their piece “explores getting lost in order to be found.”

Eight dancers perform on a bare stage at Know Theatre, backed by a large white projection screen on which simple animation (by Mam-Luft) plays out — cartoonish images of clouds, mountains with a stick-figure climber, water with a tiny boat and a dolphin, and an airplane or two tracking along a circuitous, maybe even aimless, dotted line. Recorded music, New Agey and rhythmic, by the likes of Philip Glass, Polmo Polpo and Gil Scott-Heron, provides the sound track.

Assistant choreographer Honer is a kind of central character, a wanderer who seems to be seeking her way. Other dancers — six women and one man — undulate on the floor, line up to form paths, pile up as mountains to be climbed. The company does not seek total synchronicity: The dancers are different body types, clad in miscellaneous, loose-fitting items of white clothing, and their movements while carefully choreographed allow for individual variation. Movements echo and repeat and evolve, flowing from one to another. Pairs do unusual lifts (I’m not used to seeing women lifting one another, but these actions were graceful yet strong), and the entire group enters and exits to a wide array of rhythms and configurations.

The movement meshes with and reacts to the animation. At one point, the screen becomes a view of outer space, spinning along to earth, focusing down to North America, and landing on Cincinnati and Over-the-Rhine — with a red circle announcing “You Are Here.” Of course, here is wherever you are, and that’s what the traveler learns as she explores her inner and outer selves. I suggest that you should find yourself there sometime during the 2013 Fringe: It’s a piece that will both impress you with technique and provoke you with thoughtful choreography.

PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE: 9:30 p.m. May 31, 7 p.m. June 3, 9:15 p.m. June 6 and 2:30 p.m. June 8 at Know Theatre. Find more of CityBeat's ongoing 2013 Cincy Fringe Festival coverage, including performance reviews, commentary and venue details here.