The surreal aspect of dreams is the subject of much artistic curiosity — from poetry to books, music, film and yes, dance. In their senior thesis project, two Colorado College students are exploring the idea of experiencing a dream together in a four-hour dance installation at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, titled Madam & Evening.
"Different events occur that influence and change the way we perceive the dream and how we react to each other within the dream," says Arob Dickerson, 22. "Movements occur that are the result of our experimentation with surreal aesthetics and different ideas and questions we've had that we're playing with."
Dickerson and Dolo McComb, 21, play out their mutual dream using both choreographed and improvised movements — which might happen while music is playing, but don't necessarily happen in time with the music. "Moments that we improvise are integral to our aesthetic," says Dickerson, "so what we do spontaneously is more valuable than what we could do with choreography or with pre-meditated movement."
Like the section that involves the pair having a slow-motion picnic with a Dean Martin album playing in the background. In this scene, they're "playing up the idea of the awkwardness of a date and how moving in slow motion and coming in contact with each other changes the entire sensation and moves into something totally different — sometimes more comedic, sometimes more uncomfortable, and ultimately more interesting," says Dickerson.
Using their own dreams as an example, they spliced scenes together in a seemingly random fashion, with "probably as much of a storyline as you would have in your own dreams," says Dickerson. Since it isn't necessarily the beginning-middle-end sort of production, viewers are welcome to stay the full four hours, watch only a portion of it, or come and go.
The pair incorporates aspects of visual art and video, too. "A big reason for this project was our interest in the overlap between visual arts and dance," says McComb. "And also, we were very interested in framing dance in a more non-traditional setting as opposed to a theater — in a space that's traditionally reserved for visual art."
Their adviser, Patrizia Herminjard, thought the museum setting would be perfect for the pair, whom she describes as "very playful [and] a little bit bizarre."
The idea behind their style, and this show in particular, says Dickerson, is "reducing the conventional idea of dance and movement to something that's possibly more simplistic and more visceral in a shallow, emotional sense — in that the movement is not meant to necessarily evoke some sort of incredibly grand emotion or idea, but perhaps the more pedestrian and the more everyday, and finding the aesthetic value in that."