July 8, 2020

Manifold Motion’s Under

It would seem that all sorts of interesting things are happening at the former INS building in the International District, first the fabulously clangy, bangy, wacked-out Smash Putt Mini Golf, and now a new production by local modern dance company Manifold Motion called Under. I know that not everyone likes their art so up close and personal, but after my experience earlier this year with Lingo’s one-to-one dance performance, I’m starting to appreciate the very different experience one has in a small group, feet away from art in action.

For this particular performance, a group of 20 or so of us were led through three different rooms by a guide named the “Moldy Minstrel.” Appropriately named, as Under examines natural growth and decay, the sensation of being trapped and bound, and the struggle to break free. It was light and sound and smell – that last the result of the primarily dirt-covered floor of the third room – and dance that happened sometimes an arm’s length from where we were sitting or standing. The creeping vines that you see in this photo, the fabric-covered ceiling that “breathed” in another space, or the wall of motion-activated dangling eyeballs that reached out at you all helped to create a feeling of the underworld.

For me, this feeling was most clearly expressed in a portion of the performance that happened in the last space, where a sort of decayed doily hoop-skirted creature glided out, carrying an enormous parasol and slowly dragging two long ropes on which eventually appeared two cowering minions. The interplay between these three, the enveloping music of what I thought was very accurately described to me as industrial electronica, and the overpowering root cellar-like smell were the perfect culmination of an extremely interesting experience.

I’m sorry to say that we caught one of the last performances of Under, but clearly the former INS building, which is slowly morphing into a collaborative art space called INSCAPE, is a place to watch. I suspect that many more interesting projects will be coming our way soon…

[Photo courtesy of Manifold Motion]