Penelope Freeh

Watching ‘Under the Current’, All Lit Up

Posted by on Aug 07 2015, in Uncategorized

I saw Under the Current last night, my friend Sharon Picasso’s newest version of her epic piece that I caught as a work-in-progress last year at the Red Eye. It is well on its way to fulfilling its destiny as a deeply satisfying dance-infused theatrical experience.


With illumination created entirely by onstage light sources, the tone is mysterious, like the performers are working at the edge of their psyches. The section I had seen before was the first one, featuring collaborator/performer Jesse Nuemann-Peterson. A compelling tiger-like presence, Jesse commanded the stage with meditative then volatile states of being. His role seemed to initially be about demonstrating work, tasks like winding balls of twine (literally) then building into wild chopping gestures (danced/mimed). Eventually the ‘work’ was absorbed, transformed and abstracted into his body, his very core.


He lit and unlit quadrants of the stage as he went. This came off as both deliberate and random. I simply trusted the internal logic and thoroughly enjoyed the play of light on the action and objects.


This solo drifted away and on came Sharon as performer and light-manipulator. This section was interesting as a transition and stand-alone segment. It managed to be both quotidian and just the right amount of performative, ending as it did with a stunning solo investigating staying in place with tendrilled gestures spilling out of the body.


The third and final section was danced by performer/collaborator Heidi Kalweit. Reminiscent of a futuristic, Blade Runner-like installation, this solo began with Heidi rolling on with yet another light source. She resembled a mannequin, but quickly humanized as gestures of self-discovery began her tour de force solo. Her presence had just the right amount of neutrality coupled with a burning behind the eyes, yet another source of light.


Also about performing tasks, basic things like ambulating from point A to point B, this section brought me in to Heidi’s experience by the sheer act of watching her interact with herself and her surroundings. One of my favorite passages was a repeated diagonal, a ready-set-go hurling and sliding. With each repeat came slight variations. I could have watched this for longer.


And then there was the end, the fiery constellation formed by lassoing a lighted moving dolly. As Heidi whipped it around her body, its wheels grinding on the floor added a satisfying texture to the sound score (compiled and designed by Sharon), another image I could’ve seen for longer.


The upshot is that this piece deserves to be seen and seen again. I sincerely hope there will be another incarnation. Artist’s works are never really ‘done’, but in this case, with such rich material, the investigation is ever-unfolding.