A review of Seattle performer Amelia Reeber's "this is a forgery."

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Dance Review |

Watching Seattle performer Amelia Reeber’s solo piece, “this is a forgery,” is to be engaged on the purely visual and sensual level; she has a lovely presence and her own fascinatingly idiosyncratic movement style. At the same time, it’s to be caught up in puzzles, spiritual quests, the play of puns and images, and the joys of the purely comic. She draws the viewer, one sly step at a time, into her own richly conceived world.

The multimedia piece, running just under an hour and playing at the Erickson Theatre through next weekend, is divided into two sections. In the first, Reeber, wearing a short black dress and ace bandages wound around her calves, interacts with a video (conceived by Reeber and shot and animated by Joe Moore). Her movements suggest a small animal or a cell under a microscope. She can move at warp speed, shaping halos around her head with quivering fingers, or slow down to a hypnotically cadenced languor. Video characters emerge against a galaxy of stars. A white bear appears and disappears. Reeber’s alter ego in red pants says discouraging things like “Don’t ask for what you want,” or “You are dreaming the wrong dreams.” In a beautifully lit section (the lushly sculpted lighting is by Amiya Brown), Reeber appears bathed in the glow of a video fire crackling on the screen.

A giant cat watches her, doing perfectly timed double takes with the bear. Is the cat some kind of god? It hovers in space behind three gold boxes shaped like temples and occasionally dissolves in a shower of stars. There may be a hint in a poem by Charles Bukowski printed in the program: “Be on the watch/the gods will offer you chances/know them/take them.”

At the end of the first section Reeber ties the ends of her leg wraps to a rusted anchor set downstage. She then unwinds them in a skipping game of cat’s cradle, until they are stretched at an angle across the stage and released. When she returns, wearing pale blue, the video characters have disappeared, and the music turns cadenced and cool. (Music and sound were composed by Sam Mickens, recorded and mixed with Jherek Bischoff, Matt Mehlan and Stuart Watson.)

In the last section, Reeber is freed from the amusing and unsettling video “forgeries” of herself. She dances, moving alone, taking the space with her own authenticity. Video can sometimes dwarf or upstage a dancer. Reeber is not about to let that happen.

It is easy to see why Reeber has been getting attention recently. (The Joyce Theater Foundation, On the Boards and the A.W.A.R.D. Show! among others.) Make sure to get to the Erickson Theatre to see what the excitement is about.

Mary Murfin Bayley: marybayley@aol.com