Despite its title, “California” is hardly American dance-maker John Jasperse’s choreographic curtsy to the Golden State. On the contrary, his latest offering this weekend at the Museum of Contemporary Art is a brooding and cerebral exploration into the darker disposition of a state—and regional state of mind—that has historically experienced as much pain as it has prosperity. This thematic dichotomy is embodied in Jasperse’s movement vernacular, a series of solos, pas de deux and ensembles for Jasperse and four other dancers that vacillate between moments of glacial stillness and bursts of inspired contact improvisation. The intermissionless evening—featuring original music and sound effects by composer Jonathan Bepler (who did Matthew Barney’s “Cremaster” films as well) for four onstage pianos—will most likely be remembered, however, for Chicago-based architect Ammar Eloueini’s translucent white sculpture suspended ominously above the stage in symbiotic proximity to the performance. Whether informing the dance or intriguing the dancers, the moveable and collapsible structure is at once a literal and figurative evocation of the vulnerable California that gleams in Jasperse’s choreographic eye. A post-show discussion with the artists follows Friday’s performance. (F.O. Almeida)
This production is now closed.