by Isaac Rathbone · May 12, 2014
ISH, a Netherlands-based dance company, presents their newest work HyperISH at the New Victory Theater. Using J.D Salinger’s The Catcher In the Rye as inspiration, HyperISH excellently captures the anxieties of conformity and personal trials of self-discovery. The performance seamlessly contextualizes these emotions for a younger audience, by blending hip-hop, break-dance, modern dance and spoken word.
As the lights first come up, the company creeps across the top of the set, seemingly on a cliff’s edge. A hypnotic mix of The End by the Doors plays as the dancers teeter and maneuver themselves, not knowing if they will fall or survive. As most of them fall screaming, the scene abruptly shifts into a funny and superficial conversation regarding funny and superficial conversations. The rest of the performance contains these sorts of playful mixtures of highs and lows, perfectly illustrating the constant frustrations and fun of pre-teen adolescents. Another key moment of the piece is a commentary on mobile devices and the need for validation on social media.
While HyperISH contains moments of spoken word scenes that highlight the themes of the piece, the strength is in the dance and movements. Director and Choreographer Marco Gerris has created a dance piece that has plenty of “wow” moments (such as lifts, head spins, upside-down dances, and back flips), yet still maintains the essence of tension and anxiety in youthful self-expression. The company has created such a dynamic and fast-moving piece, that the ending does seem a bit static as compared to the rest of the show. However, audiences will find themselves engaged and very able to relate to the struggles the company is presenting. The dancers themselves are free, fun and especially relatable. Sure, most of us can’t do some of the amazing hip-hop and break dance moves, but a refreshing aspect of the company is that they look like real people dancing in real clothes. The audience immediately is drawn into their struggles.
HyperISH is recommended for everyone ages 8 and up. That being said, this is a great show for ages 10-13. The overall sense of anxiety and fun really taps into the minds and emotional experiences of that age group. Even when the choreography becomes serious, it never loses that feeling of “it’s all going to be okay.” Even as an adult watching, there are moments when you will find yourself pulled in, as we never truly outgrow some of the anxieties portrayed.
To support the production, Romy Hagenaar’s design provided a simple and well-used set while the lighting by Mike den Ottolander was quite good, providing just enough mystery and mood, while highlighting the dancers bodies and choreography.
HyperISH at the New Victory Theater is one of those rare dance shows that target a more youthful audience, yet illuminates very complicated emotions through vibrant combinations of dance and movement.