LA Dance Project takes the audience even deeper into their studio with Benjamin Millepied’s world premiere of “I fall, I flow, I melt.” Millepied is a choreographer who is most notable for his choreography in the film “Black Swan” and as the former director of the Paris Opera Ballet. His production of “I fall, I float, I melt” offers an immersive experience that lets the audience have a closer look at the company’s strength, movement, and freedom to explore dance with music from Johann Sebastian Bach and David Land played by Etienne Gara on violin.
The production brought intimacy to a new level by performing in the round. Moments of interaction produced smiles and laughter out of the audience. As company member Mario Gonzalez jumped from one side of the stage to the next with a repeated jeté, he interacted with the audience through moments of stillness and unexpected movements.
But the choice of placing the audience on all sides had its limitations. It put some seats at a disadvantage by restricting the view of the performance and the tight space often clustered the group when the ensemble came together. In spite of this, their spatial sacrifices offered the audience with a perspective of the human condition they couldn’t have witnessed otherwise.
It made these dancers human rather than other-worldly.
Millepied allowed the dancers to play with a diversity of movement. Even when the movement unified, each dancer had a different approach. Some had a structured form while others opened their body to more fluidity. The program shifted from Patricia Zhou in pointe shoes to Aaron Carr moving against the flow of the music. It offered a glimpse into the broad talent of the movers.
Duets discovered the universality of human connection with dancers of the same gender taking center stage in addition to the traditional male and female pas de deux. In an exploration of identity and individuality, relationships broke or developed as the piece went from one composer to the next.
Proximity then made these stories personal by making the dancers’ effort transparent. Aaron Carr stepped in front of a section of the audience and reached up, forming a diamond out of his hands. Breath suspended in the audience as his body extended. His balance came and went. His muscles tensed, and his spine broke his rigidity on his way back down to his heels.
It was human. All walls of traditional concert dance were stripped back, something the LA Dance Project has done before and continues to do. The lighting design and set design curated by Millepied took a minimalist approach that allowed for his vision of free movement to flourish.
During transitions, dancers moved LED light structures across the stage to literally shed new light on Millepied’s choreography in the following section. As elaborate as it sounds, the production’s simplicity in design supported the emphasis on the joy and expression of dance.
“I fall, I flow, I melt” is a breath of the company. It gives an opportunity for individuality in a space that invites intimacy. Feet fall forward, arms flow in transition, and the audience melts in their seat after experiencing human connection with the dancers and their bodies.
Millepied and the LA Dance Company challenges concert dance in the round, and through sacrifices of space, enhances the individuality and beauty of movement and dance.
"I fall, I flow, I melt" runs now through January 20th at 2245: LA Dance Project Studios. Tickets for general admission are $40 and can be purchased here.