The conclusion of a rather boring performance last night by BodyVox Dance Company was met with confused applause from the audience. As the dancers took their final bows and the lights went up in the house, I turned to my companion for the evening. "Um, what happened to the Gus Van Sant piece?"
Just then, Jamey Hampton, co-artistic director of BodyVox, stepped onto the stage. Blushing, he announced that they seemed to have forgotten to perform the Van Sant piece. "We forgot to do the Van Sant Piece!" he declared to no one in particular. "Are the Bombers back there," he shouted towards backstage, "can we get the Bombers out here?"
Granted, last night's performance was a dress rehearsal. We were fairly warned that there could be problems and indeed, the lights went on at the wrong times and the heater made too much noise. In general, though, the casualness made for a rather enjoyable atmosphere. Dancers warmed up on stage as the audience took their seats and family members shouted out to loved ones behind the curtain; but forgetting the Van Sant piece?!
Luckily, the Bombers were ready to get rolling. Out they came, dressed in all manner of costumes and accessories, riding their tell-tale mini bikes, not down a hill, but in a circle—a very small circle on a very small stage. The Bombers bumped into one another, crashing and then rising to complete the circle again, like bumper cars at the carnival or insects fighting for a crumb of food. In the center of the circle, some of the Bombers performed impromptu dance moves, raising their mini bikes in the air. A skinny guy in leather undies and chains wiggled his hips while a colored strobe light flashed and the song "Sex Bomb" played loudly from the speakers. The whole thing was, well, kind of like a Van Sant movie.
Titled "Chaos Variations", the performance was conceived when Van Sant, who occupies a studio next door to BodyVox, approached Hampton and suggested the idea. Hampton and co-director Ashley Roland were quick to agree, as they had frequently discussed the idea of doing a "dance film" with Van Sant.
Good thing. The piece, though mildly ridiculous, was the only performance on the bill with conceptual allure. Granted, it was just the Bombers riding around in a circle, bumping into each other over and over again. Yet somehow the piece felt, like much of Van Sant's other work, somehow disturbing and detached, aesthetically intriguing but bereft of plot. Given the rather cheery feel of the BodyVox performance as a whole, "Chaos Variations" is refreshingly cryptic. Love it, hate it, or just think it's interesting, at least you'll be perplexed.