The Elegant Terror of Steampunk
[dropcap]P[/dropcap]lenty of haunted houses have blood and guts and monsters, but only one lets nightmares mingle with dance.
Presented by the dance troupe Third Rail Projects, Steampunk Haunted House first appeared in 2009, and this year, it plunges audiences into a dark world inspired by Lewis Carroll and his Alice stories.
That’s a natural motif for choreographer Zach Morris, one of Third Rail’s co-artistic directors. He’s always been drawn to the Victorian era, and Carroll inspires much of the company’s work.
Steampunk, meanwhile, is a science fiction genre that imagines a modern world dominated by Victorian-era technology and style. Its elegant creepiness—think of the shadows and gadgets in Robert Downey Jr.’s Sherlock Holmes—is a natural fit for a haunted house.
And a haunted house, of course, widens the possibilities for a dance performance. Morris says Third Rail “wanted to create a fully immersive world where audience members were experiencing different things at different times.” (He co-choreographed the piece with his fellow artistic directors Tom Pearson and Jennine Willett.) The troupe fills the Abrons Art Center, and as audience members roam the building, they encounter art installations, theatre, sound design, costuming, and site-specific work.
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This post is part of an ongoing partnership between DancePulp and Theater Development Fund. Visit tdf Stages for more information. Steampunk Haunted House runs at Abrons Art Center through 31. Visit steampunkhauntedhouse.com for more information and to buy tickets.