A funky exploration in movement and thought

Tuesday, March 13, 2018 - 2:55pm

A momentum inside of me pushes on — internalized — continuing the push-and-pull game that the international dance duo Wang Ramirez started with this past weekend at the Power Center. An exploration of physical limitations, social boundaries and human relationships ensued as the group took over the stage. I left not only inspired to fulfill a lost dream of learning to dance, but also to explore the corners of my mind. Through movement, the group created a dialogue on the boundaries and limitations both created by and imposed onto us.

Hip hop, aerial rigging, ballet and martial arts fused together to create a breathtakingly virtuosic and electrifyingly poetic production. Wang Ramirez have pushed the boundaries of what dance is through their style and, in doing so, have harnessed a power unattainable in classic form. The dancers started off by moving in and out of the silhouettes of two big silver cubes, experimenting with their physical relation to the shape. Throughout the performance, they pushed the audience to do the same with the cages built around us — to both consider and challenge social norms and the extent of our own freedoms. Without the need to satisfy the expectations that come with one style, Wang Ramirez were unfiltered in movement, obeying only the human body while also pushing the limits of their own physicality. With a new freedom in style and multiple dimensions in movement, the group begged the audience to explore the magnitudes of body and mind.

Solos were generally watched by their backup dancers, breaking down the barrier between what it meant to be a performer and what it meant to be an audience member. A dialogue between two dancers midway through and bits of humor spread throughout the performance further broke down the barrier, fully engaging the audience members. To end, the dancers each took turns improvising to a funky, upbeat song, with the audience clapping along; everyone left fully energized. 

With a minimalistic soundtrack, two large silver cubes created by several rails and a rigging system, the six dancers artfully maneuvered the stage. Sometimes using harnesses to become weightless and sometimes using just gravity and one another’s bodyweight, they incorporated suspension and reliance. At other times, the group moved independently, relying on their own momentum and force though breakdance, hip-hop footwork and contemporary dance. The aerial rigging system allowed the dancers to defy gravity, exploring new dimensions and broadening the scope of their own movement. With incredible strength and flexibility they not only just had the floor of the stage to work with, but also the space above. Walking up the side of another dancer, completely parallel to the floor, and floating above and along the railings of the silver cubes, Wang Ramirez constantly challenged gravity — transforming their palate of movement and allowing an exploration of the relationship between body and space.

From a social thought experiment on yelling “I love you” and “I hate you” to a bowl of rice, to crazy high heels and tutus, the production intrigued on countless levels. Incorporating both outward humor through gesture and occasional dialogue and an innate conversation that questioned human identity, there were many ways that individuals could have experienced the performance. Regardless, Wang Ramirez captured an attitude incredibly relatable to society today: a thoughtful seriousness that somehow does not take itself too seriously. “Borderline” is a production that challenges our most thought-provoking ideas today and still makes you laugh. It allowed the audience to enjoy, engage and explore what it means to be human — both in movement and in thought.