As I was en route to DRYPP, I passed people taking photos of the sun diffused by haze caused by smoke blown into the Salt Lake Valley from fires as far away as Los Angeles and the Pacific Northwest. I thought about my family and friends who are recovering from Hurricane Harvey and also inhaling toxic air caused by leaking petrochemical plants, hastily shut down before the storm. I thought about Bangladesh, India and Nepal where monsoons have caused the deaths of 1,200 people. We are in the midst of many natural disasters occurring much faster than the shift of tectonic plates. In DRYPP, Einy Åm Sparks investigates “geological time” in relation to “human time” through movement and media with her company, EyeKnee Coordination. I arrived at the show with a sore, smoke-filled throat as well as a heightened sense of “geological time” moving at a rapid pace, at the rate of “human time”.
I peered into the Leona Wagner Black Box Theater to see crinkled white paper that, as I ventured further into the space, quickly became a rock formation when I rounded the corner to see more floor-to-ceiling paper-rocks looming around every wing of the stage-scape. I felt like I was going into Timpanogos Cave. Stephanie Sleeper and Kevin Ho were planted onstage already, wearing loose red outfits designed by Sleeper. They were lying down with their legs up, the tops of their heads facing the audience, at rest as if they had been there for eternity.
A drop of water fell in our ears and the dancers began. They moved upstage with a series of intertwining leg and arm movements executed on their backs until they rolled away from each other, while still gesturing towards one another and then reconnecting. Einy Åm Sparks entered, her black oxford pumps click-clacking over the sound of rain falling. She had a cameo scene protecting herself from the rain with a red coat that served as a potent symbol throughout the piece. It protected, it was coveted, then it was a shroud trapping its wearer. The red coat could be seen as another dancer in the piece as it was animated by the way the human dancers moved with and around it.
Scenes of the Arctic Circle were projected and woven into the performance of DRYPP. Both Sparks and Sleeper dance in the films, and their live movement was frequently in dialogue with that of the film. The film spilled onto the stage. This expert integration of film and live dramaturgy created a sense that even though the footage was shot primarily in the Arctic Circle, the landscape of DRYPP was universal and transplantable.
The same can be said of the efficient, released, and persistent choreography. All three dancers moved fluidly alone, together, or with the filmed version of themselves. There were a few moments when one dancer crawled through a space created by a dynamic, geological-looking position of their partner. They played with the weight of their limbs, lifting their legs as if they were very heavy and then flipping onto one another as if they were weightless. DRYPP is a mesmerizing interplay of weight-play, film and live-performance play, and sonic provocation. The sound designed by Eddie Segi, Mike Wall, Yngve Åm, and Kristy Dodson was vital in driving DRYPP forward, with piercing violin concertos, silence, and distorted drips.
DRYPP reminded me that disparate communities of people on earth are ecologically connected despite socio-political initiatives towards separatism. Watching this work was a meditative experience amidst a hectic and somewhat ominous time of natural disaster throughout the world. I left the theater feeling like I had taken a breath of fresh air.
Emma Wilson received her BFA in Modern Dance at the University of Utah and has since been making solo works, choreographing for Deseret Experimental Opera (DEXO), and working as the Salt Lake City Library’s Community Garden Coordinator.