Dancing about sculpture: Movement piece tackles giant figures

Dancing about sculpture: Movement piece tackles giant figures
Niki Singleton

These dancers are taking on the Man.

A group of performers will clamber on, over, and through an 11-foot sculpture representing male tyranny during two performances next week, as part of the Brooklyn Emerging Artists in Theater Festival. The “Control Equinox” dance piece, playing inside a Downtown office building on Sept. 19 and in a Greenpoint theater on Sept. 22, is a collaboration between choreographer Thea Little and visual artist Niki Singleton. And although the show features five performers, the person in control is the giant wooden figure, said the Williamsburg creators.

“The man is sort of the main character of the piece who influences the dancers,” said Singleton. “Dancers play out the demands of the man. Sometimes they become his advocates or his accomplice, and other times they threaten his existence in rebellion.”

Singleton crafted the 11-foot figure — and a second structure called “the tool” — from a combination of reclaimed and purchased materials, including wood, car parts, and animal fur. The “man” has an ATM machine as a head, a partial pinstripe suit, and an Uzi for a hand, which makes him look “like a venomous salesmen sort of character,” said Singleton.

Dancers will step through the figure’s doorway-like feet, control his puppet-like arms, and climb around inside during a series of rapid-fire performances, with 12 separate scenes presented during the 23-minute show. Many of the scenes with deal big-picture topics such as oppression, freedom, and the birth of humanity, according to its choreographer.

“One of the dancers goes through evolution in a scene,” said Little. “She uses movement and noises to represent evolution and ends as a sophisticated gentlemen that kills all the dancers with guns.”

Controlled chaos: In the show “Control Equinox,” dancers will accompany an 11-foot figure on wheels, while manipulating its puppet-like arms.
Niki Singleton

But the heavy themes are balanced with a light-hearted approach, said the artists.

“These are big issues we’re dealing with but there is a lot of subtlety in it and a lot of humor,” said Singleton. “We hope that it’ll make people think and we hope that people will have a good time and plenty of laughs because it is really humorous.”

The fifth annual Brooklyn Emerging Artists in Theater Festival, which continues all over Brooklyn from Sept. 15–23, is designed to showcase little-known Brooklyn artists for new audiences. Other shows includes a street dance performance that incorporates the myth of Apollo, a combination beat-box and cyr wheel performance, and a one-woman interpretation of Shakespeare’s female characters, among many others.

“Control Equinox” at One MetroTech Lobby [MetroTech Center at Jay Street Downtown, (718) 923–5302, www.beatbrooklyn.com]. Sept. 19 at noon. Free.

Also at “Brooklyn on the Rim” at Triskelion Arts [106 Calyer St. between Banker Street and Clifford Place in Greenpoint, (718) 389–3473]. Sept. 22 at 7 pm. $20.

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at cspivack@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2517. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.
One man’s trash: Toys and other found materials dangle from an 11-foot sculpture representing patriarchal institutions.
Niki Singleton