REVIEW: zoe|juniper’s “A Crack in Everything” At New York Live Arts
[dropcap]A[/dropcap] projected wall of leaves ripples in the wind on stage and I can already sense the visual mastery at work in zoe | juniper’s New York Premiere of A Crack in Everything at New York Live Arts. The house lights dim and we are welcomed to a peculiar new realm, where dancers in patches of gold perform behind a giant glass wall on the front of the stage. Zoe Scofield’s powerful movement vocabulary owns the stage behind the protective layer in front of us. It’s an interesting new angle to see the fourth wall constructed physically. As the show continues, it becomes increasingly clear that the audience’s perspective will remain in constant flux and rarely visit the comfort zone.
The wall is used effectively throughout the piece and Juniper Shuey’s understanding of choreographic timing and performance becomes absolutely clear. At one point, three dancers finish a phrase and almost immediately the same phrase is projected onto the wall, but in reverse. Ms. Scofield stabs what looks like a pencil around her fingers on the floor while a ghostly projection sits across from her, depicting the potential outcome of her frenzy. These physical imprints play a large role in the piece as we see echoing information exchanged between the performers and their technological counterparts. This collaboration hardly feels like two separate entities at the same time and more like a harmonious rhythm discovered between the two.
Despite all of this interesting new terrain discovered throughout the work, the pace fell flat about halfway through. Is it possible that too much sensory stimulation was eventually numbing? Maybe. The more likely explanation is that A Crack in Everything held no answers to the questions it raised.
Throughout the work, whether it be Ms. Scofield tracing herself on the glass wall, a contemporary adaptation of Swan Lake’s Petit Cygnes, or a dancer making her way across stage all while clenching a red thread in her teeth, each section seems to end with the phrase, “and that’s how that happened.” An abstract effort that seems to be a larger canvas to present ideas rather than a cohesive theme with a goal. In pursuit of shifting perspective, then accomplishing it as soon as the lights came up, the remainder of the evening basked in the glow of constant achievement without any struggle, climax, tension or discomfort.
The only possible exception to this is one section in which Ms. Scofield and Raja Kelly undress and begin barking like dogs in a fight. It seemed out of place with the rest of the material and felt entirely alien, but it was the very first time I felt a rush of conflict and uncertainty about what might be coming next. So there’s room for improvement and all the tools to accomplish it.
With a better understanding of the audience’s hunger, zoe | juniper might be able to provide more than something for the eyes to chew on. We want our heart strings plucked, our breath taken, and the edge of our seat to become our new home.