Directed by Fiamma Piacentini and Logan Ricket; Choregraphed by the LAS NYC Ensemble
Part of the 2018 New York International Fringe Festival
Off Off Broadway, Dance
Runs through 10.28.18
FringeHUB, 685 Washington Street
by Emily Cordes on 10.14.18
Nora Kennedy, Kris Sidberry, Sara Kohler, Claire Ganshert, Harmony Stempel, Flora McGill, and Sara Kohler in
las:sitas (an exploration of the divine feminine). Photo by Fiamma Piacentini.
BOTTOM LINE: A multifaceted dance-theatre expression of womanhood.
In the wake of the #MeToo movement, the awareness of women’s struggles and the need for powerful female icons sit at the forefront of our shared consciousness. Appropriately, dance theatre collective LAS explores these subjects through lenses both timeless and contemporary in las:sitas (a movement exploration of the divine feminine). Through the framework of classical archetypes and ensemble-based movement, las:sitas offers an expressionistic take on the female experience.
As its title implies, las:sitas draws inspiration from depictions of the feminine divine, from classical images of Greek goddesses to the Hindu pantheon’s actively revered devi. While this manifests most clearly in poses evoking graceful statues or fierce-faced warrior goddesses, the theme is more symbolic than narrative, connecting the show’s varied dance sequences in its exploration of the joys, challenges, and conundrums of womanhood. Through solo performance, contact dance and partner acrobatics, and flock-like group sequences, LAS’s ensemble (Laura Artistovulos, Samantha DeSimone, Claire Ganshert, Nora Kennedy, Sara Kohler, Fiamma Piacentini, Kris Sidberry, and Harmony Stempel) embodies women’s varied experiences of connection and conflict. The women frolic in childish glee or crumple in private anguish, display their bodies in scrutiny or celebration, and find, lose, and regain connection with themselves and others. We watch moments of tenderness and curiosity turn to violence or disconnect, and see strength and empathy bloom from painful situations.
Cultural obsession with women’s bodies also features prominently, manifesting most clearly in sequences set to audio from filmmaker Jørgen Leth’s 1968 short The Perfect Human, a pseudo-anthropological study of the human form. One dancer evokes social restriction while contorting inside an open cube; others writhe under surveillance or veer between poses of shame and pride. Common gestures, repeated robotically or out of context, become canvases for implied sexuality and chilling objectification. While these images are meant to disturb, and the key message is one of critique, LAS also hints at cultural incentives for entering toxic systems, and our self-policing complicity within them.
Though las:sitas’ spare, three-quarter staging provides fluid exploration of its subject matter, this setup can backfire when certain configurations lead performers to upstage themselves. The inconsistent blackouts punctuating some segments, and the public entrance of a stage manager to supply props, also lend an unpolished feel. As the piece favors expression over conventional story, a bit more technical structure would help unify the sequences and pave a clearer path for audience focus.
Rather than adhere to specific cultures’ mythic structure or portrayals of the divine feminine, las:sitas forms an open dialogue on the creative and destructive power in all women. Its violent and erotic overtones stand out against our current historical backdrop, but its portrayals of endurance, solidarity, and self-discovery transcend time and circumstance. As women navigate the tense gap between struggle and empowerment, las:sitas reminds us of our rich legacy and intrinsic strength.
(las:sitas (a movement exploration of the divine feminine) plays at FringeHUB, 685 Washington Street at Charles Street, through October 28, 2018. Meet at the RED FringeNYC flag. The running time is 1 hour 20 minutes. Performances are Fri 10/12 at 8, Sun 10/14 at 5:30, Mon 10/15 at 2:45, Thu 10/25 at 7:45, and Sun 10/28 at 4:30. There is no late seating at FringeNYC. Tickets are $22 (plus $3.69 ticketing fee), $16 (plus $3.51) for seniors, and are ONLY available online at fringenyc.org.)
las:sitas (a movement exploration of the divine feminine) is directed by Fiamma Piacentini and Logan Ricket. Choregraphed by the LAS NYC Ensemble. Production Manager is Logan Ricket. Assistant Director/Stage Manager is Rui Dun. Costume Design by Ashley McCormack. Floral Design by Betsy Steed.
The cast is Laura Artistovulos, Samantha DeSimone, Claire Ganshert, Nora Kennedy, Sara Kohler, Fiamma Piacentini, Kris Sidberry, and Harmony Stempel.