Sunday, October 19, 2014

Quantum at The Dance Centre

There is so much movement in this world that we cannot see: the dance of electrons, protons, neutrons, photons, quarks, and other sub-atomic particles that is only observable via radioactive and scattering processes that take place in huge colliders and superconductors operated out of labs like CERN, on the Swiss-French border near Geneva. Swiss choreographer Gilles Jobin's QUANTUM, which just concluded its run at the Dance Centre last night, is based on a 2012 artist residency he had at CERN. It is a translation into embodied movement of what for most of us remain otherwise purely theoretical concepts, including electromagnetic radiation, wave physics, and quantum states.

In this, Jobin is aided immeasurably by a crackling, chromodynamic score composed by Carla Scaletti, and especially by the "lumino-kinetic installation" designed by Julius von Bismarck. The latter is comprised of a set of overhead lamps under which three couples pulse and twitch at the start of the piece, and which will begin to sway and circle in their own electronic choreography over the course of the ensuing 50 minutes. Indeed, the dancers emerging in and out of shadow in various oscillating patterns of attraction and repulsion, or to adopt various wave-like latticed tableaux according to height, was most compelling visually.

I have to say, however, that I was distracted by the dancers' costumes, unitards which I think were meant to be evocative of lightning flashes, but which suggested to me of onesies that might be worn by a troupe of harlequins. All of which is to affirm a fundamental principle of physics: the observation of an event will alter that event.


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