Before dancers or music, all you are first aware of is light, palpable light, beamed through fog, diagonally through the air across the stage. A sense of three-dimensionality to the air is, one almost might say, one of the characters in INAT$ (It’s Not about the Money) the new work of Olivier Wevers premiered last night and to be danced again this evening (June 24-5) at Intiman Theatre by Whim W’Him.
One by one the dancers —Andrew Bartee, Kaori Nakamura, and Lucien Postlewaite—enter from different quadrants. Costumed by Mark Zappone in rich velvet and something lacy, off-shoulder, a deep blue that sometimes shimmers and sometimes soaks up all the light, they dance alone, then vanish before the appearance of the next. Shhh! Kaori signals as she exits. The rest of this fast-paced 17 minute work is a series of acrobatic solos, duos, and trios. Light slants out and down from a bunch of spots in the center above the stage, opening up on the floor rectangles of criss-crossed white that come and go with the different figures.
At the tech rehearsal earlier in the week, the lighting crew interrupted the dancing often, asking for certain bits to be repeated.
“Dancers,” Olivier called down to them, “we’re trying to get the cues for the lights tied to what you’re doing so it seems as if what you do is what stretches out the light.”
That is what lighting designer Michael Mazzola was after. And it is exactly what happens. Last night the dancers’ movements seemed to cause the light to change.
Humans are story-telling animals. You put a triangle, a square and a circle on a page together, and people will make up a narrative about them. A woman and two men? There is no end to the fascinating sagas one could invent. INAT$ teases us with mystery, atmospheric lighting, costumes that beg to be part of a drama, and repeated gestures of query, searching or confusion. Even the music, by Bill Ryan— quick, changeable, quixotic—begs to collude in the recounting of a tale.
And yet INAT$, according to its creator, is more a response to music, an exploration of dance vocabulary, the creation of a mood, and a series of challenges to the dancers than any single story in coded form.
Last night the dancing was vertiginous, unceasing. Such high energy at the end of a strenuous evening (especially since there was a full dress rehearsal that same afternoon) made one feel, as a very fit friend of mine in the audience put it, “really out of shape.” The matchless Kaori treated us to her sparkling precision, and Lucien dazzled with his solo spins and leaps, while the ebullient Andrew Bartee, “baby” of Whim W’Him, outdid himself. The evening culminating in INAT$ was, an audience member remarked at Q&A session after the show, “a real breakthrough for Andrew.” When I complimented him later, his reply was simply: “I had so much fun dancing tonight!”