TEEN AMBASSADOR: ARIANNA REBELO | FEBRUARY 27, 2015
From Los Angeles, California comes Bodytraffic. Bodytraffic brings a new style of dance with forms of acting and literal storytelling to be translated in their performance. From artistic directors Lillian Rose Barbeito and Tina Finkelman Berkett, Bodytraffic tells three different stories all to be interpreted in each viewer’s way. Not only is their style of dance indifferent to older more traditional styles, but their way of telling their story only draws your attention further in as you develop your own way of understanding all that is occurring.
Bodytraffic, as previously stated, is told in three different stories: And at Midnight, the Green Bride Floated Through the Village Square(…), Dust, and O2Joy. The first act is choreographed by Barak Marshall and is a partially true story about a family of eight sisters and one brother who were neighbors of Marshall’s mother in Aden, Yemen. The second act Dust is inspired by Cult, originally commissioned by The Place Prize, and act 3 pays “an exuberant homage to American jazz standards,” according to the program. Although you are told what is to come in the performance, understanding the concept or theme of what’s occurring depends on perspective. And it’s not to go without mention that the program for the show does essentially explain what is to come, mainly for the first act, but having no clue about anything for the third act felt a little confusing.
It’s not to go unsaid that the performance (and Bodytraffic as a whole) graciously represents diversity in this production. They not only have dancers of different races, but they are also not subjective to genders or shedding light on different cultures. With themes of comparing women to animals, Bodytraffic was not afraid to cross any boundaries and shed light on issues that occur in real life. An interpretation of actual body trafficking between women looking for a man’s approval before getting “knocked out,” tastefully showed what the act was all about. Thankfully, there was no over saturation of any events, for instance, instead of using fake blood, the dancers used red rose petals to symbolize death, giving it a more beautiful sensation than a gruesome one.
In the first act, dim lighting and Jewish love songs set the scene. In the second act, dim lighting and narration set the scene. And in the third act bright light, colors, and uplifting music set the scene. The production features hymns from the Yiddish, Ladino, and Yemenite traditions, along with music by choreographer Barak Marshall, and songs that pay homage to American jazz standards, Bodytraffic did not fail to keep your ears listening. Aside from incorporating the themes of the music into their well choreographer dance routines, Bodytraffic featured segments of dialogue between women and men about cooking animals, while appalling each woman being told the intense story. The sound of each performance was one of the best features of Bodytraffic, since incorporating the music helped tell the story better, and also made for a better scene when it came to having women pretend to watch a film.
The dancing as coordinated as it was, was also simultaneously uncoordinated, for good reason though. Each dancer had their own style and way of performing the story being told, by having each woman or man’s vision on what was occurring, it allowed for a better understanding. The women had their own way of feeling towards each different men and it was truly shown throughout the “tossing” of one woman from one man to the other. And the men equally represented themselves, although were careful not to easily show their weaknesses before the second act, where all is unraveled.
Although identified as the “second” and “third” act, the ending was really a whole that included a pause to allow your mind to take everything in. The second act featured a male protagonist that seemed as if he was having a battle with himself on whether to fit in or not. Whereas after the brief pause you’re brought back to a colorful screen with hints of Billie Holiday’s On the Sunny Side of the Street playing in the background. Hints of jealousy in the beginning, with happiness in it’s ending. Bodytraffic seemingly did it all.