Move in the ether with ARCOS Dance Company: a local dance troupe explores the interzone of the real and the virtual – Arts


ARCOS co-director Erica Gionfriddo (back to camera and in live video projections) performs in an iteration of the Ether series, 2017 Dance Gallery Festival. (Photo by Sharen Bradford)

ARCOS Dance Company is preparing to put the power switch on and present their latest project, In the ether, both to the Austin public online and intimate, in person in early August.

You’ll be able to reserve a spot in one of this city’s many venues – at least one in each of Austin’s 10 districts, is the plan – to witness talented artists engaged in “lasting movement practices.” (You know: what most people would call, at least tentatively, dancing.) And you will be seen, yourself, via the live streaming cameras of the physical sites. Meanwhile, audiences online will navigate an interactive browser-based multimedia experience, with access to view live streams from all locations simultaneously, as performers invite viewers into a virtual “third” space called Ether. .

Note: This is by no means a temporary maneuver.

ARCOS, which started in Santa Fe and moved to Austin in 2014, is not working this hybrid form in reaction to the restrictions required by Our Pandemic Situation; the company has worked on the preliminary fields between the real and the virtual, the embodied and the abstract, since their beginnings. Exploring this crossroads – and what is there and, potentially, beyond – is what fuels the beating heart within the ARCOS collective body.

“It seems that there are extremes right now in all areas of society,” notes Eliot Gray Fisher, co-director of the Adventurous Troop, “and there are also extreme reactions to the technology, with many people outright rejecting the technology. Even a lot of people in the performance community are in the rejection category. Like, ‘This what we do: we do things with body, and his live, and we must have people physically here. ”“ A smile emerges around the sympathy within his thin beard. no need to be led. “

Above: Taryn Lavery watches herself in projection in the interactive installation Ether Potential future pasts, 2019 Studio tour in East Austin. (Photo by Eliot Gray Fisher)

ARCOS co-director Erica Gionfriddo develops the idea: “Last year with the pandemic it was surreal,” they say, “and certainly not the circumstances we would like everyone to live for. the first time. But it was exciting in some ways too, because a lot of people had to give up binary thinking around the relevance and value of technology – because it had become our only option. So we offered a lot of technological and emotional support to people, because we had been there before. Not just: “How do you use Zoom? What are the tips and tricks? ‘ – there are thousands of these – but offering more than one frame, an understanding of how to approach technology, of knowing that it is something that we can to be a hybrid with and can actually find fun and get things done with it. Rather than just, you know, say, “This is awful! and hang your head and not think about it. As Eliot said, it’s a losing battle to try to keep him at bay. “

Since 2016, the Ether series has been examining how emerging technologies such as smartphones and social media are shaping our understanding of ourselves and our bodies, and how people relate to other bodies encountered online and offline.

ARCOS started Ether over five years ago, shortly after the live video feature was made available on major social media platforms. As the company’s program notes reveal: “On July 6, 2016, the murder of Philando Castile by police officer Jeronimo Yanez was broadcast live on Facebook, while Castile’s girlfriend Diamond Reynolds was streaming from his phone. while her 4 year old daughter watched from the backseat. online access to this horrific act has exposed urgent ethical territory. “

Since then the Ether series examined how emerging technologies like smartphones and social media are shaping our understanding of ourselves and our bodies, and how people relate to other bodies encountered online and offline. “Our work is based on elements of cyborg, queer and incarnation theories,” Gionfriddo explains. “We focus on everyday devices and technological habits by reusing them – by ‘hacking’ them – for a use other than what they are intended for. “

Yet using technology like her has been intentional is part of what makes being an audience in (or in) an ARCOS production a remarkable experience: in addition to peering into theaters in local neighborhoods where the performers will be broadcast live, the show browser-based also offers viewers a chance to delve into the society’s archives of previous dances (recorded in rehearsal and in performance since 2016) and to organize multiple synchronized views of an ensemble sequence that was filmed at the Ground Floor. Austin Theater in early summer.

Then, In the ether. Is this wrong? Is it real? Does ARCOS Dance Company itself, ah, false real? Fisher and Gionfriddo and their team, while they are not lacking in the kind of playfulness that informs a lot of creative intelligence, suggest a more important question: “What is our responsibility to each other as our daily technologies transform our ways. relationships? “

Now, whether you walk through a door in a meaty space or more easily tap a keyboard to access virtual cameras, you can hit enter and participate in some of the provocative kinetic responses yourself.

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