Saturday, 13 November 2010

Second Skin

First and only performance of Second Skin today. This was supposed to be Huang Yi’s second project, but for reasons related to the electoral campaign, the premiere had to take place before the election day.
Huang Yi hired two American dancers for the project. I had seen some sketches of the drum costume, Huang Yi had vaguely told me about his intention, but we only started to actually gather our energy and effort on the week of the performance.

For the first scene, the dancer was to wear a costume covered with small little Chinese drums remotely controlled by a computer, which would also produce a little light when the drums are played on, and slowly cross the stage, Butoh-like. I made a soundscape of breathing sound patterns, bells, percussions and a harp to accompany her voyage.

The second movement was about these inflatable outfits. Unfortunately for me, Huang Yi had to use pumps for that so the noise covered everything else. The only thing left to do was to play sounds at random.

The third movement was focused on a dress made of a thermo-sensitive material. The idea was very exciting: the scene would start with one of the wall panel on which hot hair was blown at by means of (noisy, again) hairdryers. Then a hole would be cut in the wall and the dancer would slip through it and turn it into a dress. I like to call it the moon dress for the colour and texture reminds me of the moon.

The last scene features a live sculpture: two dancers find themselves trapped in a cloth where air is blown in and out, creating the effect of a breathing sculpture. I created a soundscape made of breathings to back a solo violin playing the theme of Mahler's adagietto from his 5th symphony. Unfortunately again, the air pump was so noisy, it distracted the viewers from the dark and romantic core of the piece.

Second Skin

"It all would have been very good if we had given a prayer to the spirits of the place" one of the dancers said. The show was jinxed. Everything went very well during the dress rehearsal we did in the afternoon.
But as the audience was coming in, we realised that the connection between the drums-dress and i-Pad with which I was supposed to control  and pla with it didn't work: there was no sound! Only the lights worked! We tried to reboot the computer. Nothing. I saw Huang Yi signing himself in a gesture of prayer, trying to keep his composure. But to no avail. The drums still refused to play. He eventually had to make an annoucement to the audience.
If that wasn't enough, the main computer which controlled everything suddenly crashed and there was no sound at all!  
I was mortified.
It was indeed mentioned that Second Skin was a work in progress...

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