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Double Vision: Hysteresis
Posted on31 July 2010. Tags: Double Vision, Pauline Jennings
Merce Cunningham Studios, NYC July 10th
By Rebecca Martin.

Seeing San Francisco based Double Vision perform in New York at the Merce Cunningham studios in the West Village was heaven for a dance lover like myself. This was the ten-person company’s first appearance in front of a fickle New York crowd, but Double Vision impressed with its performance of the modern dance piece Hysteresis. The production, an experimental work choreographed by Co- Artistic Director Pauline Jennings, premiered in California in April and was described as “70 minutes of non-stop, innovative dance, sound, lights, and costumes informed by a residency at the Museumsquartier in Vienna, Austria”.

The piece drew upon the theme of alienation, both one’s own feeling of being alien and that which is alien to oneself. With geometric lighting and costumes, there was a sense of something unfamiliar, as the natural world is full of less structured shapes, however once the dancers began swirling around the performance space, a warmth and familiarity returned. The industrial and percussive soundscape and sparse use of music kept the focus on the dancing and drew the audience in, as though they were a part of the performance, rather than separate from it. Moments of silence and stillness came suddenly and with a large impact as they forced the audience to pause and think about what was unfolding before them Without a set narrative, we were free to interpret the show in any way we saw fit, or we could simply enjoy the performance as a pure dance piece.

The five female dancers in the piece performed Jennings’ choreography solidly and with great breadth of movement. The movements were at once both angular and lyrical, with a continuation of the geometric theme through the use of elbows and knees to carve shapes in the air. The dancers were technically proficient, and performed mostly individually, even when sharing the stage. Occasionally the dancers would work in unison, with great effect, but mostly the space was a flurry of bodies and shapes moving independently – alienated from each other.

Double Vision is an excellent contemporary dance company that is not afraid to experiment and fuse sound, light, video and dance. The performers are strong, capable and a delight to watch. This is how modern dance should be: beautiful and edgy all at once.

Double Vision’s ‘Hysteresis’ journeys to unfamiliar territory
April 12, 1:13 PMSF Dance Examiner by Julie Potter

Double Vision’s Hysteresis, performed at Dance Mission Theater this weekend, leads a meditative journey into unfamiliar alien territory. The work, choreographed by the company’s Co-Artistic Director Pauline Jennings, features five female dancers moving individually with a vocabulary that includes a series of drags as elbows lead arms in figure eights, hard angles of the hips and elbows in positions that seem to get stuck and then resolve, curving bodies that settle to frame the face through parallel forearms and plenty of skittering that travels in the deep space at Dance Mission Theater. Never pedestrian and without physical contact between dancers, the movement sequences repeat and permute, evolving against the soundscape.

The music, a score by composer and Double Vision Co-Artistic Director Sean Clute, is key to creating the unfamiliar environment with sparse percussive sounds, an electronic stasis and moments of cacaphony. The changing music colors the repeated movement phrases to express a differently nuanced encounter between the dancers each time.

The most satisfying dancing arises in trio arrangements as the technically precise dancers execute individual sequences at varied rhythms and occasionally share a brief segment, catching a rotation, a gesture, a curve, communicating momentarily before continuing alone.

Inspired by Jennings’ time in Austria last winter, where she traveled for a two-month residency at Vienna’s Museums Quartier, Hysteresis grew as a response to being a foreigner. In Austria, she studied a variety of physical, emotional and mental processes to bring new awareness to her work. The classes at Tanzquartier Wien in Austria included interpretations of Postmodern dance, Release Technique, Contact Improvisation, Butoh, Feldenkrais and other techniques.

Ben Coolik, whose lighting for Hysteresis is void of color to intensify the qualities, employs strong diagonals and rapid rhythmic changes. The costumes by Andrea Campbell are also without color: patchy black, white and grey bodices and black spandex shorts.

The experience of being an outsider to the dancers’ landscape, stripped of human qualities, makes sweet the familiarity of a brief string melody that breaks through the sparse percussion midway through the work. Just before the blackout, familiar music returns in the form of a piano tune and the shuffle of people, bringing comfort.

Double Vision’s next performance in the Bay Area is May 1 at CounterPulse’s May Day.

Review of Hysteresis : A production by Double Vision
April 10th 2010 by gina clark

The Dance Mission Theater. A small, yet warm and inviting space. The walls painted yellow, red, blue, and even so- Pauline & Sean pass me in line; their faces glowing with excitement. An energy which can only come about, on the opening night of a Performance. I put a few slices of cheese in my pocket, and quickly grabbed some water from the hallway. As we, The audience gathered, the chairs were quiet. And the long blank stage afront of us all…. The lights go dim, and we all sit in darkness. The only sounds I could hear, were of the angry late night drivers zooming by outside. I might have been nervous. I’m scared of the dark. And then, ever so suddenly, Hysteresis began.

I was reminded of Sign Language- the pulse, the glory, and the frustration. I thought about mountain-scapes, and felt a cold wind. An ever so familiar feeling in my stomach. And as the sweat fell from the soft eyes of each dancer, it shared a space with the dust. The dust, which would reflect off the lights, down the floor of the stage. An overall haunting, metamorphic, and conceptually Futurist adventure. F.T. Marinetti would have been quite entranced. As I was listening to the sounds of each dancer’s movements; their breathing, knees cracking and sweat flying into the eyes filled with tears. I have not seen anything like this before. The score, the costume design, choreography, and lighting- All complimented eachother quite equally enough- taunting one another, as the dancers in haste, were writing letters in the air. Their limbs ever so graceful, yet at times quite aggressive.

Each dancer was a character, who promised a silent theory of an un-inhibited role: What is it that we hold so close? What is this question we pry the air of, yet still keep still & humming in our palms? Is every moment in our life forced? And how can this be so? It is difficult to understand a performance, by only its first viewing. Often, more then unlikely, I was moved. Incredibly. The length itself could make one (who is not of such a patient stature) become weary. But in my eyes, the length was humbling- I can say that the experience allows one’s role as the spectator, as the ‘viewer’, to accepting the meditative experience of a production by Double Vision. The tension was lovely- movements of an anxietal state. Each Dancer, their feet- although clouded, and haunted by Clute’s score, would still screech and hum violently along the cement reservoir.

It came to be, that I had wanted to know what each performer was thinking. Not only as their character in the performance itself, but what each person was thinking. In each moment. On a personal level, I would say that I myself was asking each performer, in silence, what is it that you want? What is it that I thought I had understood- and at once forgotten? One dancer slaps their leg sluggishly, another circles an area until her breathing becomes as coherent as Clute’s invasive, yet structurally minimalistic and hypnotic score. Are we moving only by habit? You don’t want to miss this show.

Double Vision: Hysteresis
by Amar Chaudhar, April 27, 2010

A couple of weekends ago, I attended the premier of Hysteresis, a performance described as “70 minutes of non-stop, innovative dance, sound, lights, and costumes informed by a residency at the Museumsquartier in Vienna, Austria.” It was a production of Double Vision, a group known for performances combining dance, music and technology, and took place at Dance Mission Theater here in San Francisco.

Hysteresis explored the theme of “being alien or observing that which is alien to oneself.” However, for me the performance did not feel alien at all. Indeed, each of the artists’ approach to alien-ness via dance, music, choreography and lighting ended up creating something that felt familiar for me and comforting in its sparseness. The choreography had a feel of individuals going about their business in a city environment, sometimes moving about in wildly different directions, sometimes very static. The lighting had a very geometric and architectural feel. The dancers’ costumes also had an architectural or industrial quality and consisted of simple tunics stitched together from geometric gray and black swatches of cloth and black leggings.

The music held together these elements with industrial and percussive sounds punctuated by references to popular music idioms, as one might hear passing buildings and cars in between traffic and construction. It started with short percussive notes, mostly struck metal and block. At first the sounds were very sparse but later on they formed into complex polyrhythms, sometimes with more standard percussion instruments like kick drums and snare drums mixed in. The sparse texture was interrupted by other sections of music, such as short samples from big-band music, classical (or classically inspired) string music, and passages that sounded like show tunes or brass bands. It was not clear these were found musical objects or composed from sratch. Towards the climax of there piece, there were more sounds that one might consider more “electronic”, such as noise, synthesizer sweeps and sub-bass tones. However, even as the idioms and timbres changed and the music became quite dense, the sparse rhythmic texture from the beginning of the piece kept going, like machinery of a city that never stops. Or almost never stops – there were a few moments where it cut out entirely, and the silence was quite startling.

The often sparse texture of the music allowed one to focus more on not only the movements of the dancers, but also the sounds they made in terms of the movement of their bodies and breathing. After one particularly loud section everything fell silent, the dancers moved off stage, and one rectangular patch of light kept flickering. This light seemed to be of particular significance (it was the only one that cast a rectangular shape) and appeared occasionally throughout the piece.

The final section began with what sounded like machine or car sounds and moved towards what sounded like an elegant party with piano music, and the faded to silence. It was a strange ending after the very industrial sound throughout the rest of the piece, but it provided an interesting contrast.

Choreography for the piece was by Pauline Jennings, music by Sean Clute, lighting design by Ben Coolik, and costume design by Andrea Campbell.

Technology Focus of Moving Meditations – Dance Review

Jennifer Noyer
Albuquerque Journal
Sunday, June 3, 2007

The Wild Dancing West contemporary dance festival ends this weekend at the North Fourth Art Center with Double Vision, from San Francisco.

Led by artistic directors Sean Clute and Pauline Jennings, Double Vision is a group of dancers, musicians, video artists and performers who explore and reinterpret Futurist ideas, creating a bridge through choreography between the human effects of earlier technology and the complex technology of today. The results were full of humor, some stunning dance and video imagery, and a few quite frightening effects.

The first half of the program focused on Italian Futurist concepts from the first decades of the 20th century, when new mechanical technologies were changing the world. Accepted ideas about time and space changed rapidly. In 1924 choreographer F.T. Marinetti said that “time and space died yesterday.” Marinetti’s “Machina del 3000/The Love of Two Locomotives for the Station Master” was humorously reconceived by Jennings and Clute. A Chaplinesque little man, danced by Tiffany Barbarash, waited for the train with his suitcase. When two robotic figures entered as humanized locomotive engines, they began a courtship with the little man. Barbarash achieved exaggerated comic macho gestures as she flexed muscles, did quick push-ups, and escaped. Futurists created short works for the stage to describe the motions of machinery on dancers. Clute created short videos of a fast-forward mechanical bull, and a bowling scene where movement dissolved into repeated lines, or just repeated actions back and forth in time.

“Machina Typografica,” originally by Giacomo Balla, described the motions of a printing press in 1914 with 12 dancers in two rows using repetitive pushing and turning arm gestures.

“As If By Falling” was choreographed by Jennings for six dancers, designed with clear phrasing and formal development imposed on Clute’s electronic sound environment. The dance opened and closed in a diagonal line from upstage right to downstage left. The dancers developed spatial designs from that line with sharp, angular gestures and fast directional changes. Occasionally, a figure would melt into a slower, curved shape, breaking the pace of machinelike movement. At one point, a figure appeared as a victim, crucified in space. The sound score gave no hints of phrasing or meter, but dancers picked up invisible clues, returning to finely constructed and sharply performed unison movement.

“Video Action Painting,” a technological marvel by Clute, created a Monty Python-styled cartoon on stage, with the artist’s hand designs projected, in the moment, on a video screen. It incorporated scenes from a bar with domestic scenes and voyaged from a small town to the west coast over a map, and through time, from horse-and-buggy to automobiles. I’d have to see this several times to really get with it, but it was amazing to watch.

The last dance on the program was both beautiful and frightening. Jennings’ “Three Canons and Mise en Scenes (2007)” was performed to another electronic score by Clute. The first canon opened with rigid, doll-like dancers moving as though controlled by unseen forces. They would hit poses, then melt into new movement variations. Musical excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 evolved within the score, increasing in volume, or completely disappearing in the third canon as the dancers transformed their movement into more classical lines and shapes. Here the lighting design became the dominant emotive factor. Ben Coolik was able to dissolve solid matter in front of the audience’s eyes as figures were broken up visually into light fragments, like pixels, finally disappearing in darkness. Can technology wipe us all out? Wipe out art? It was worth thinking about and amazing to watch.

DOUBLE VISION creates an ironic gallery of interactive scnarios at CELLspace

Jamie Windborne
Arts Extra!
Sunday, June 4, 2006

MISSION DISTRICT — The CELLspace gallery opened into a galactic playground of the imagination where the doorway to a collaborative art group’s performance created an electro-wonderland of socio-political proportions. A spontaneous combustion of colliding performances, including cheerleaders racing against themselves through space and time, cowboys and angels roping viewers into a hit-and-run hoedown, and a stranded scientist seeking exile from his lunar setting, redefined performance art into an ironic gallery of interactive scenarios.

Hosted at CELLspace on Friday, May 26, Double Vision’s “Evolutionary Patterns and the Lonely Owl (Mutation #2)” created a performance experience for both artist and observer that allowed the audience to roam freely to explore multiple layers of performances, environments, and installations.

Directed by Sean Clute and Pauline Jennings, Double Vision’s artists forged a balance between unity, complexity, and chaos as visitors roamed freely through an environment of performance, dance, music, video and technology. Jennings, co-director of Double Vision, explained that the collaboration wanted to foster an environment where no discussion is required, only the creation of a shared performance.

“The interesting thing that happens, is that even when interaction between the various pieces is not planned, it naturally occurs,” she said. “Just as a pedestrian walking down the street may be influenced by a horn honking or a pigeon crossing it’s path, whether the horn interrupts their thoughts or changes their mood and the pigeon changes their path, all performers (and attendees) at these events undergo similar experiences constantly as light, sound and physical space changes.”

In Jennings’s interactive piece, “Ample Autonomous Accumulators”, which includes performance artists Wendy Marrinaccio and Cecelia Peterson, three dancers race against time, space, memory and each other. The performers encourage audience members to place wagers, follow the scorecard and attempt to impede or help the performers, in what Pauline describes as “the tension of overall competition of trying to co-exist.”

Artist Jason B. Jones played Dr. Stranded, who communicated with visitors from inside an inflatable moon with lights and body gestures. Jones said that the theme of isolation was used to have very intimate contact with people where freedom and a barrier simultaneously exist. “We can have close contact but less interaction with each other,” he said. “You can get very close to people, but still be very distant from them. It’s about isolation, but how you communicate through that and make a connection.”

Other performance works and installations featured constructions by Marielle Amrhein, Steven Baudonnet, Matt Bell, Liz Bootz, Sean Clute, Amanda Crawford, Brian Enright, Simran Gleason, Jammin’ Ammon, Ron Goldin, Jessica Gomula, Elisabeth Kohnke, Chris Kruzic, Amy Leonards, Michelle K. Lynch, Amy Nielson, Tim Thompson, Bill Wolter, and Nicole Zvarik.

One of Lonely Owl’s production goals is to create an ensemble of artists interested in blurring the boundaries between their different media, according to Jennings. “Each mutation of the series has granted more control to the artist, and less to a centralized authority and more freedom to choose the level of interactivity they desire,” she said.

Disembodied Head No. 2 and 3

Hilary Burke
The Meaning of the 21st Century

This past year, Double Vision performed their post-modern audio-visual performance piece Disembodied Head for the documentary series The Meaning of the 21st Century, which is currently in production and is scheduled to air in September 2005 on PBS….

…Disembodied Head is a pinnacle example of the crossover of modern dance with audio/visual components. This demonstrates the parallel movements in art with technology. Technology has become such an embedded aspect of today’s society and now art is being transformed by this same technology. Disembodied Head became the visual complement to Dr. Shlain’s discussion….Double Vision’s innovative routine and mix of audio/visual techniques was exactly what we wanted to apply to the interview to achieve a cutting-edge documentary never seen before on television.

It is my hope that more people who are artists as well as those who have no background in art or dance have the opportunity to view the work of Double Vision. Their enthusiasm and interest in our project not only raised the bar for our production, but also allowed us to be a part of a new and evolving style of art.