Review of robbinschilds’ “C.L.U.E.” at PS 122

Last week I was chained to my computer spewing out term papers for the end of my semester at the New School. Unfortunately I had to miss what sounded like the videodance event of the Fall: robbinschilds’ “C.L.U.E.” at PS 122. Luckily, my fabulous co-worker, Michelle Coe, went to see it, and she spontaneously wrote this review. I was very glad to get her impressions of the work, and even happier to be able to share them with you here.



Program: C.L.U.E.


Venue: PS


Sonya Robbins and Layla
Childs inhabit the intersection of human movement and architecture–be it natural
or manmade. C.L.U.E. combines a movement based full-spectrum video with acutely
visual live dance and an original live score. (From PS
122 brochure)


This piece had me totally
transfixed. admittedly, I’m a sucker for live music, and this was particularly
captivating “shoe-gazer” dark, experimental music by Seattle rock band Kinski
(where the bass guitarist at one point played her guitar with a bow, like an
upright bass!), so it had me from the first note.

but then there was the
impressive but very simple set: rocks, complete with texture and climb-ability,
and then the black, lava-like sand that was rolled in, kicked up, danced around.

the most captivating element
that pulled everything together was the film. I had stories going in my head of
how fun it must have been to location scout for it:

taking a desert canvas and
looking for desolate landscapes, maybe an odd industrial fixture within it,
seeking awe-inspiring frames within nature (massive upturned tree roots,
towering rocky hills, water surrounding two stick-like trees and then two
dancers who disappeared below surface) and playing with what cameras (point of
view, light refraction) and editing can bring to that experience. The costumes
were bright almost florescent colors, and tops and bottoms were slightly
off-color, so they clashed not only with themselves but with the pale browns
documented in the videoed landscape. It was surreal and almost magical. I wanted
to stay with the scenes longer than the editing allowed–and I think the film
accompanied by live music was great in and of itself.

and then there were the two
performers. they added a tangibility to it that was captivating. through
altering backgrounds, and shifting ambiance as songs ended and new ones began,
the movement had an eventual pattern to it–like it started with a series and
then eventually came back to it. as a classical dance snob, though, I’d say the
movement performed as it were was not interesting or impressive by itself, and
the performers, adapting deliberate blank expressions, didn’t have much spark on
stage. but packaged all together it was quite mesmerizing.

this creation was a
fascinating example of how all of these elements–music, dance/performance, and
film can merge together and be distinct, yet be extensions of one another–like
one is dependent on another. in fact, I found myself wondering what the dancers’
process was, where they start.

all in all, I was
transported. very cool indeed.

Review by Michelle Coe

Video excerpt of C.L.U.E.:

Here are some other reviews of C.L.U.E. to check out:

Anybody else see this show? Share your impressions here.
This entry was posted in artists, screenings/events, theory/criticism and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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