by Lynn Marie Macy · August 16, 2014
Isis Variations is an ensemble dance piece currently at the 14th Street Y developed by The Ume Group with inspiration from Butoh, a form of Japanese dance theatre which is traditionally performed in white body make up and utilizing slow and controlled movements as well as from the mythology surrounding the Egyptian goddess Isis. All of it is set to an eclectic mixture of recorded music, silence or sound from the dancers.
The performance is divided into four sections, each choreographed by one of the dancers. They are: I. Isis, the Animal, II. Isis, the Truth Seeker, III. Isis, the Animator and IV. Isis, the Earth’s Love. Initially I tried to follow along with the program but found it confusing and in the end, I found it more useful to sit back, relax and let the performance wash over me. All of the performer/choreographers Dave Herigstad, Marie Putko, Jordan Rosin and Yokko achieve equally unique and interesting work. Each performer was very emotionally connected and though I may not have always understood their intentions, I felt sure each dancer was fully committed in the moment of their truth.
While not every moment worked for me (there were some vocalizations I found distracting) there were also moments of gorgeous physical fluidity. The lighting design by Derek van Heel was very good and went above and beyond in enhancing the stage pictures. In addition to sporting white face make up the performers had powder in their hair and in certain light it looked as if their heads were on fire and smoking! The costumes by Ariel Pellman were exotic and supported the themes of the evening. While some of the more static sections of the performance may not be everyone’s cup of tea the skill and ingenuity of the performer/choreographers make Isis Variations worth a visit.