UNLV’s dance department created a concert to honor Tiffany Studios in New York, which is an institution committed to maintaining traditions of scrupulous commitment to quality. This studio doesn’t turn out dancers, though. It turns out lamp shades.
“Glassworks” was a three-piece showcase performed on Oct. 21 and 22 that celebrated the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany, an artist with a flair for stained glass and a vision of bringing that to people at every economic level. He believed that the beauty of glass should be shared with anyone who wants to partake of it. Most dancers can relate.
Louis Kavouras choreographed the opening number of the concert, an arching modern piece with an unpronounceable name. The title is the entirety of Schrodinger’s equation, a mess of Greek letters and symbols that describes how the quantum state of a system changes over time. Its solutions describe such things as particles and waves of light and this lofty, cerebral tone twined through his choreography.
Deep strings and a visually compelling set played host to a flock of dancers with good musicality and commendable spacial awareness. The piece churned with splintered factions of dancers, grouping, moving, regrouping, lemming-like at times but almost constantly in motion. The effect was one of near chaos, or many stories at once, or passing time.
The lighting contributed to this; the stage was a beige canvas continually painted with light and the set was gorgeous: stained glass-style hangings draped the wings and a translucent scrim emblazoned with geometric patterns completed the motif. The differing dynamics of movement undulated throughout and gave way to a quiet, amber sunset. The audience whooped.
Richard Havey brought a delightful, 1950s-jazz-meets-the-millennial-generation with “Unbroken Times,” an energetic jazz piece underscored by a set of magentas and greens. Characters, extravagantly dressed in skirts, slacks and heels, alternated between big battements, rond de jambes and coupe seconds, nicely interspersed with sections of flouncing about in character. There was a rambunctious hipster vibe to the number, something akin to the visual cacophony of fine society with musings about the passing of time thrown in for fun. Havey was doing what he does best, and it was a wonderful change of pace for the show.
Cathy Allen’s “Shattered” summed up the performance with a postmodern feel, a curious set and an even more perplexing soundtrack. The overall effect was one of peeking at a foreign situation; watching from a safe distance seems wise and more mysteries keep presenting themselves as the interactions continue. A beautiful mobile dangled shapes of translucent, colored material over an otherwise tan stage. Dancers in blues and greens interacted beneath this silent spectre, reaching to it occasionally but keeping it at a level of oblique awareness throughout. It was simply interesting to watch and the disconcerting music, composed by UNLV’s Beth Mehocic, only added to the supervenient vibe.
“Glassworks,” as abstract as the concept may seem, was a multifaceted exploration of the nature of art, no matter the medium. The set itself deserves a tip of the hat; a small note in the program acknowledged the work of dance majors in building the phenomenal pieces, and the time these took was evident. The concert’s impact has much to do with the parts of the stage that weren’t moving as the parts that were. Visual beauty exists on several levels, after all, and this show made that quite apparent.