Diavolo | Architecture in Motion had its Park City premiere at the Eccles Center on Monday night. The Los Angeles-based company is known for its large-scale architectural pieces that are the jumping-off point (literally) for the company’s acrobatic movement vocabulary. On the program for the evening were two full-length pieces, “Transit Space” (2012) and “Trajectoire” (1999), both conceptualized by artistic director Jacques Heim.
“Transit Space” featured skate ramps that the dancers maneuvered around stage to create different scenes. The ramps were used in every imaginable way, dancers clad in cargo pants and sneakers sliding down and ricocheting off them – all while the ramps were in motion. Watching the dancers’ daring tricks and trusting falls, as well as their innate sense of timing and teamwork in relation to the ramps, was truly exciting. The choreography that took place on solid ground was less so; think that cliché street dance movie and the final “dance battle” that ensues. The sound score featured music layered with spoken word, addressing the popular yet tired reproach of social media technology, among other more grippingly personal sound bites.
“Trajectoire”* centered around a set piece fondly referred to by the company as “the boat,” which rocked back and forth for the piece’s duration. Clad in white, the dancers mounted and dismounted the boat throughout, which alone was thrilling to watch. Once atop the rocking boat, groups of dancers ran from side to side, making the boat rock to extremes. The sides looked like they would touch the floor in these moments, but of course never did. Choreographed sequences also took place atop the boat, both a testament to spatial awareness in a confined space and to balance atop a surface in motion. The dancers inverted, extended, and lept through choreography that would have been demanding even on solid ground. Like in “Transit Space,” teamwork was a notable component to “Trajectoire,” as the dancers lifted, supported, and caught each other in aerial maneuvers all while making sure the boat didn’t rock to the wrong place at the wrong time.
Diavolo showed incredible strength and daring in the program’s two works. Additionally, the dancers’ ability to work together and coordinate dangerous lifts and jumps with moving architectural pieces is laudable. While “Transit Space” felt more like a gimmick at times, “Trajectoire” seemed to truly embody the company’s mission and capabilities.
*Note: To give due credit to the Diavolo performers and their professionalism, they spent a prolonged intermission trying to map out “Trajectoire” minus one usual cast member (who was unable to perform the second piece due to an acute case of altitude sickness). Ultimately, the company was able to perform only the first half of “Trajectoire” at Monday evening’s show.
This review is published in collaboration with loveDANCEmore.org.
photo courtesy of Diavolo|Architecture in Motion
Amy Falls, a Virginia native, studied ballet at the North Carolina School of the Arts and received a BFA in modern dance from the University of Utah. She currently works as an arts administrator in Salt Lake City.