Experience the Rainbow

Experience the Rainbow

Article originally appears on Art Attack Philly. View the original here

Color is one of our most basic visual perceptions, as humans. We can indulge in our love of color through the visual arts: an eye-catching wall mural, or even a brightly colored handbag can stimulate and perhaps overwhelm our ocular senses. But can color be translated to the other senses? This weekend, from May 23rd through 25th at Mascher Space, Loren Groenendaal’s Vervet Dance Company attempts to answer this thought-provoking color quandary in Groenendaal’s original modern dance performance, color FULL. color FULL presents a dynamic celebration of color in all forms, from sight to taste to sensation. You can expect to see eye-catching costumes, taste brightly colored cocktails, and experience color in motion in a way like never before.

color FULL will feature six short pieces based on different colors: “Green,” “Blue,” “Purple,” “Red,” “Orange,” and “Yellow.” One of the principle concepts behind the performance is Groenendaal’s desire to blend the aesthetics of the visual arts, such as sculpture and painting, with the conceptual movements presented in different genres of dance. Many dance performances have conceptual narrative themes, such as romance or even political statements. In color FULL, Groenendaal wishes to step away from these themes and focus on the visual presentation itself. She states, “The study allowed me to counter my usual tendency of making the visuals serve secondary to the narrative or social goals I was exploring, and forefront the visual aesthetic experience. I achieved strong visuals by restricting other elements, using such limitations as making the dance fit into a 6 by 6 foot square and wearing a self-designed constrictive costume.” Through the costumes and the vastly visual nature of the performance, the dancers take the roles of organic, lifelike sculptures.

The costumes are indeed among the most striking aspects of the performance. Each dancer’s respective garb is intended to visually stimulate the audience as well as alter the dancer’s ability to move, by either enhancing or restricting movement. In “Yellow,” the dancer must accommodate a pair of elongated, stiff sleeves, which function similarly to stilts. Similarly, in “Green,” the arm sleeves are connected to the pants, forcing the dancer to find a new method of showcasing arm movements, or perhaps restricting arm movements entirely. Groenendaal says, “For some of the costumes, I exaggerate the human form, making the dancer larger than life with an emphasis of making an intense visual statement. In other costumes, I hide the human form shifting the presentation of the dancer to more of a object rather than a person. In this way, the feeling of the color comes through more as sculpture and less as character.” She explains, “Overall, I am expressing a duality between human and thing, and dance and sculpture. Neither the dance nor the dancer are totally obscured by the idea of sculpture and costume, so the ideas of color shine through in part due to the dancer, their personality, their expression, and their bodies.”

In addition to the performances on May 23rd through May 25th, Groenendaal will offer dance lessons, to help children from ages 2 to 8 fully experience color, as well as an artist talk on May 23rd to explain her complex artistic vision. Groenendaal’s color FULL is sure to be one of the most intriguing, abstract dance performances of the year, particularly for visual arts buffs. Experience the rainbow before the colors fade away!


Photos courtesy of Bill Hebert and Vervet Dance Company.