The folks at Artifact Dance Project just want us to fall in love with them.
Memories of the dance company’s wildly successful March production of “Surrounding Dillinger” are still fresh as it presents its season-ender with Artifact and Brittany Katter. The performance is a fierce eruption of music and movement.
The performance/concert takes place at Artifact’s downtown studios — a long, narrow warehouse with a high ceiling and a shiny black wood floor. Chairs surround that floor, practically putting audience members toe to toe with the dancers.
We see them sweat, we see their intensity, we see them glide and leap and move with impressive grace.
At the north end of the warehouse is Brittany Katter, who sings and plays guitar, Tommy Larkins on drums, and Annie Dolan on guitar.
As the first strains of music rock out, a long line of dancers, most in flowing black, weaves its way about the room. That first sight sort of takes your breath away.
Logan Moon Penisten did the choreography for this hour-long performance, which is packed with Artifact’s hallmarks: a strong narrative, beautiful dance, and live, original, music.
Inspired by Katter’s lyrics, Penisten has a sort of war going on. The dancers in black are led by Anarchy, a tall, liquidy Bo Brinton with the black horns of a ram on his head. He manipulates and demands allegiance from his followers, who are obedient, sensual and intimidating. They outnumber the dancers in white: Liberty (Penisten), dressed in tattered clothing, Freedom (Kali Schmeltzer), and her two siblings (Alan Gonzalez and Brendan Kellam). Freedom oversees the two groups, trying to maintain a balance between them.
But then Anarchy seduces Freedom’s brothers and brings them to his side. She will have none of that and the battle is on to save her siblings and, by extension, humanity.
Schmeltzer is a delicate beauty, almost waifish, and her fierce confrontation of the forces of evil makes you want to stand up and cheer.
The dancers are deeply committed to telling the story, and telling it with nuance and elegance. The combination of music, theater and dance was totally captivating.
While Artifact’s studio space is wonderful, it’s not terribly kind to sound. Much of Katter’s lyrics were muddied. That’s a shame because her music is politically astute and she is known for crafting lyrics that have wit and insight.
Still, this concert feels like a glorious immersion in dance and music.
And it’s another reason to fall in love with Artifact.