Dance Review

BodyVox’s 'Firewall' Aims to Burn the Disco Down. Say What?

The theatrical dance company skims the surface of technology with little data but lots of crowd-pleasing razzle-dazzle. Thru Dec 20

By Ramona DeNies December 9, 2014

Levitating dancers in “The 3rd Floor”

Lasers. Green screens. Wind-wands. Optical illusions. Firewall, the latest work from the ever-theatrical BodyVox, is, the program states, inspired by the hidden technology that shields us from “unwanted data intruders.”

And so begins this gauzy, puckishly directed performance, with the show’s first two pieces playing on themes of fire, walls, and James Bondian spy(ware) games. But fair warning to techies and literalists: attempts to correlate Firewall’s often ecstatic choreography with actual gates and data packets could provoke system meltdown.

Intermission marks the end of even hazy associations with the show’s titular software (called a “scrambler” in the playbill, deeply perplexing my accompanying brother, a web developer). For the next four works, artistic directors Jamey Hampton and Ashley Roland turn their attention to creating—and revealing—the prop-heavy soundscapes and multimedia fascinations for which BodyVox is so well known.

In “Figments,” dancers bobbing choppily before a green screen in split-color unitards may have little to do with malware, but the effect IS pure visual eye-candy when the green half of their costumes disappears on the big screen projections, forming a parade of floating, single-legged cut-outs.

Thru Dec 20

Likewise, a carpet that clings to a wall in “The 3rd Floor” rejiggers perspective with the help of multi-camera projection. On the performance floor, dancers tumble and sway upright; on a screen next to them, rotated real-time video gives the charming illusion of impossible levitation and gravity-defying gymnastics.

If most of the show’s gambits play out too long, the frequent hilarity and general prettiness still hold the eye.

Ultimately though, I wish I’d taken a hint from Hampton’s introduction. “Let’s burn this disco down!” he shouted, as the backdrop lit up with simulated flames. Say what? Had I emptied my head and prepared to par-tay—rather than spending the next ninety-odd minutes looking for the story—it might have been enough to simply bask in the warm, ephemeral glow of BodyVox’s fire(wall?).

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