Don’t be fooled. The fervent house key jangling, studied water bottle tapping, and resolute shoe-on-shoe beating that transpire at the beginning of Ridgewood-based dancemaker Laurel Snyder’s new evening-length performance LOOP are not random noise, embodiments of how you might feel on a Monday morning, or some b.s. art tedium of the type we all have to put up with on occasion.
Or, maybe they are? Life is full of mysteries.
But these minutiae also begin to assume purpose and meaning as the base from which the dancers will evolve—if the first 20 minutes of LOOP that I saw at its inaugural rehearsal at The Footlight are any indication.
Snyder, right, and Judkins in LOOP (photo by The Fleet NY)
After a few minutes of laying this sonic and behavioral groundwork, Snyder, in concert with collaborators Emma Judkins and Adam Schatz, shifts the mood precisely from hodge podge thrift store to a syncopated tandem walk that becomes a run, and then, just as pointedly, to a series of micro-vignettes in which the three performers frame, restrain, and support one another in intricate statuesque positions—while singing.
Those familiar with Snyder’s work will not be surprised by this cantering progression through themes and modes that appear to be (and are) disparate, yet that speak to one another clearly enough as they arrive and depart that the piece holds up as an unbroken, if twisty, line.
What such audience members might be surprised to find during this portion of LOOP—or any dance performance—is the dancers’ singing. Immediately upon hearing the lovely long notes issuing from their mouths, I thought:
1) Wow, singing really complements dancing!
2) I wonder why more dancers don’t sing?
3) Oh right, because they’re busy dancing.
Judkins and Schatz rehearse LOOP at Dragon’s Egg Studio in Connecticut
But after experiencing the religious-level elevation that some carefully chosen poetic fragments and meditative melodies akin to Gregorian chanting brought to this work, I wished that more dancers would at least give it a try. I also suddenly saw the trajectory of the dance start to come into focus: we had moved from the laboriousness of the random, rote, and practical up through the channel of the energetic, coordinated, and controlled, and were now ready to ascend to a lighter place, an integrated place, a cooler and wiser and more accommodating place.
Then the dancers dispersed and the rehearsal ended, so the full content and import of LOOP are as yet unknown to me. But apparently that’s appropriate, as Snyder wrote of the work, “We embrace ‘not knowing’ as a way to ‘know’ something else. This is a risky proposition, but one that a work like LOOP is prepared to enact.”
LOOP will premiere at The Footlight (465 Seneca Ave at the corner of Harman St) on November 30 and run through December 2. All shows will start at 7:45 pm and be followed by a DJ set. Tickets are $12 in advance on Eventbrite; $15 at the door.