Collisions of Energies at the Chocolate Factory

chocolate factorySaturday night David and I went to see my brother's fiancé in a dance movement piece called "CRAM" by her dance troupe called lower lights collective at the spooky Chocolate Factory in Long Island City. The year before I got a taste for what the troupe is capable of when I watched them perform within giant rolls of rope, as an old woman obsessed with lining up and flinging about a million keys, and as a seemingly mad painter equally obsessed with chopping potatoes with knives attached to pipes and using paint brushes also attached to pipes to smear paint on hanging pans.

Needless to say, last year's was about an hour of watching people perform like my crazy neighbor (who is actually crazy, schizophrenic, medicated at times, and downright maddening...learn more here and here). This year's performance started off no different, kicking it off with the mad painter (created and performed by Aki Sasamoto) who this time could have been a homeless person obsessed with finding plastic grocery bags, spinning around a zillion times to fill them with air, and then landing on them as if they were puffy down pillows. In her offtime, she conducted an imaginary orchestra with potatoes attached to elastic from the wall and fiercely grated them at a conductor's stand in a mad concert.

The next performance was quite revealing. Created by Matt Bauder and performed by Bauder and Arturo Vidich, we watched the peaceful study of the phonetic energy produced by a working microphone dipped into different shaped pieces of glass. It sounded like wetting the edge of a glass with a finger, but in this case, the two objects that were creating the sound did not connect. The energy between them was so thick, that it created a third element.

We walked down to the dark dungeon of the Chocolate Factory, where the floors are most uneven and chunky at points, to watch my brother's fiancé, Lily Skove, perform her interpretation of a woman in a state of Alzheimer’s in "The Garden," with sculptures that come to life built by Kate Tan Eyck and a stark and beautiful lighting design by TJ Hellmuth. This performance transported us to Alice's Wonderland, where Alice is acted out at a tea party as a silhouette behind a white screen beneath a beautiful bird cage and between two angry chairs. The whole night was worth going just to watch this piece, which co-starred enchanted field machines in the moonlight, and ended with the most beautiful combination of visual stimulation and sound I have heard in a long time.

We regrouped in the hallway (yes, this performance involved standing and walking) to listen to a demonstration of what seemed to be a vocal performance through three old-timed telephone speakers. I'm not sure that that is what they were, but they sounded like ducks, and something was turned up so high, that one could not understand a single word as the sound skipped around on three of these speakers suspended from the ceiling.

The night ended with a zoo-like display of giant babies with giant plaster baby heads created by Arturo Vidich and performed by Vidich and Sasamoto. Each head had a camera in it and a television set off to the side to watch what was going on in each baby's head. It was so interesting, that one couldn't decide if they should watch the live performance of the girl baby smashing her doll baby's head, or if one should watch the monitor showing what she saw as she smashed her doll baby's head, as the latter was almost more fascinating. After tormenting each other, the giant babies get ferocious, and it seems that one is out to destroy the other. They are aware of the monitors showing the details of their heads, and once again, we are reminded of the third element that is created out of two connecting energies as frequencies collide and cause destruction, as one giant baby watches the inside of her head in the monitor for too long...

My take-away from this piece of art? The reminder of the physical effect energy has on another object. We saw an unexpected third energy created twice - once with the microphones and the glass, and then again with the head camera and the monitor. The results of different energies go largely unseen, like one's outlook on the success of a project, or the treatment of another person. So it's one's own attitude that cannot be underestimated in finding happiness or success, as proven by these performances.

The trip out to Long Island City is worth it, as it's only one stop off the 7 at the Vernon Jackson stop. It's $15 for the show, which supports this little theater, which can barely be found in a strip of buildings on 49th street. There are plenty of bars and restaurants around for a drink or late night dinner after. David enjoyed a lamb sandwich and I a baked goat cheese and apple salad at Lounge 47 a couple of blocks away from The Chocolate Factory. Shows go from January 13-20, 2007.

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