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Clairobscur Dance Company – “Uncertain Terrain” in review

November 14, 2011

Clairobscur Dance Company is a tour-de-force not to be missed by the Los Angeles-area dance aficionados. Their aptly named and recently performed “Uncertain Terrain” showcased the breadth of styles Laurie Sefton is capable of as well as the athleticism and artistry of her dancers. The evening presented five dance works at the ARC Theater in Pasadena. Ms. Sefton’s vision pulls the audience in using experiences of common life as motifs and her dancers bring the audience’s emotions and reactions to life.

Copyright - Clairobscur - Obviam Somes

I-5 Windmills was a somewhat literal piece, bringing imagery of the windmills found in Northern California along the highway. The circular movements of arms poised atop dancers delicately balanced in arabesques did accurately bring to mind the vision of fields of windmills.

Crawl Xipe Totec, on the other hand, expressed more abstract qualities of intensity and charisma. To me, the piece had a strong visual element of animals, accentuated by green and red costumes and extensive floorwork. However, Ms. Sefton has stated that was not the intended metaphor. I would argue that animals, their movements and the natural world at large often represent qualities that people identify with as well as evoke strong emotions. We can be drawn into its beauty, harshness and sheer immensity. Therefore even a misinterpretation of the visual would still result in the audience perceiving the qualities it is meant to represent. Certainly the strength of the dancers and the powerful movements clearly represented those qualities.

This Facility is Being Monitored for Your Protection and Security, a two-part piece, did an excellent job of portraying feelings of discomfort that a world increasingly filled with surveillance can induce. Of the two parts, Panopt was my favorite, although both pieces were well done. I thought this particular piece truly showed off how wide a range the dancers had physically and emotively – from the perfect synchronization of movements to unexpected twists and sheer athleticism.

Obviam Somes premiered at the show and was an expression of the vulnerability and exposure we can feel around our bodies. It explores medical themes as well as the more stark aspect of being visible and bare, whether alone or with others. Like the previous piece, the choreography demanded the audience pay attention, using situations easy to identify with, and then left us to explore our own reactions and feelings as if we were in the dancers places. In particular, the costumes consisting of sheer, hospital-type gowns, highlighted the sense of being revealed.

Overall, I very was impressed with the power, emotiveness and range of the dancers. The choreography was innovative, compelling and accessible to both dancers and non-dancers. Without a doubt, I would highly recommend experiencing Clairobscur for yourself as it is well worth seeking their performances out.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. November 21, 2011 10:59 pm

    Thank you for the lovely review Vanessa!

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