Lexicon is contemporary dance in a very literal way—technology is omnipresent in BodyVox's new show. There are two different pieces shown through projectors, and another that's accompanied by animation. There's even an interactive section in which the audience can use their phones to call the dancers as they're performing.
Choreographed by BodyVox's artistic directors Jamey Hampton and Ashley Roland, Lexicon starts the company's 20th season. Over those two decades, they've created hundreds of dances, toured dozens of shows internationally and established themselves as one of Portland's most innovative companies.
They're clearly not interested in resting on their laurels. Lexicon is a lighthearted, bizarre exploration of the possibilities technology can provide. The multimedia doesn't distract from the dancing, it's a means for BodyVox to tests its creative limits. There are vibrant pieces performed by so many dancers that they fill up every corner of the stage, and others that are somber, introspective duets.
In "Figments," the dancers wear leotards that are half black, half green, and perform in front of a green screen. On the other side of the stage, the half of their leotards captured on the green screen are projected onto the backdrop. It creates a bizarre, floating effect: flailing, half bodies performing humorously nonsensical movements.
But Lexicon doesn't sacrifice genuine emotion for flare. That's particularly clear in an intimate duet danced by Brent Luebbert and Anna Marra. The piece begins with Luebbert dancing alone to staticky, solemn music while a black-and-white animated video is projected on the stage behind him. When Marra comes on stage, the animation changes to bubbles and pink and blue fish, and upbeat piano music begins to play.
The duet they dance is like a fight for control. Luebbert and Marra push each other away and then pull each other close. In the background, the two animated videos mimic their struggle for power. When Luebbert leads the dance, his static animation takes over the screen. When Marra gains her power, the screen is overtaken with bright hues. Eventually, the conflict revolves. Marra and Luebbert embrace each other as if they've both been defeated, and then dance in sync.
Lexicon isn't trying to say anything in particular about technology, but its lack of focus is why it's wholly able to give itself over to experimentation.
SEE IT: Lexicon is at BodyVox Dance Center, 1201 NW 17th Ave., bodyvox.com. 7:30 pm. Through Dec. 16. $24-$56.