ONE FROM THE MIND
by Cindy Pierre
published December 12, 2008
now playing Off Broadway at the 3LD Art and
through December 20
Hark! Who or what goes there? There in the corner, a lithe figure, emerging
stealthily, hesitant, and uncertain. There, here comes another....and another, until 8 stand
onstage. Let the sociology and anthropology lessons commence. Such is the beginning of Rebecca Bannor-Addae's The Only
Tribe, an experimental foray into group identity and ritual through dance. The talented
dancers don several types of masks with different geometric shapes that each denote a “tribal” group. From their interactions, a story unfolds about how the variance in class, family and other associations
all weave together to form society. Although the concept is clever and the contemporary
choreography is often visually arresting, the show is devoid of emotion and a tangible storyline despite the incorporation of several
elements that should have suggested otherwise.
Two of the elements that work extremely well together are Reid Farrington's video design and Stephen Arnold's lighting
design. With wonderful imagery that creates optical illusions and lighting that neatly draws
the line between tension and triumph, their partnership is entertaining. One instance in which
the marriage of these two components is solid is when the “tribes” converge with digital replicas of the dancers interfacing with the live
dancers onstage. Flashing lights and slogans should elicit an emotional response but they
don't. Instead, the show seems callous.
The other aspects that should have plugged into the audience's feelings are Peter Kyle's choreography and the dancers. The choreography is intricate with movements that are calculated within an inch of their lives, and the
troupe pull it off remarkably even though some are stronger than others. Ellenore Scott and
Diego Vasquez each reign with solos of contrasting styles, and perform with impressive fluidity and body control. Alas, the dancing will only appeal to your intellect and not to your heart.
cindypierre @ stageandcinema.com