On June 18, I had the pleasure of watching one of the most imaginative shows. Likened to Cirque Du Soleil, yet still relatively unknown, the performance was put on by the fledgling MYO Productions and was nothing short of riveting.
Creator Josie Walsh, herself a dancer since age five and an instructor for almost as long, contrived a piece called “The Garden of Reason.” Collaborating with her husband and musical director, Paul Rivera, as well as aerial choreographer, Ingrid Hoffman, Walsh managed to create a production that possesses a modern feel yet expresses ageless universal emotions. It accomplishes this through classical ballet and acrobatics, which is accompanied by Surve, a band blending rock and electronica in complete melodic harmony.
"The idea came from the tension among human beings and the constant conflict between the organic and corporate world. Everything is a balancing act," said Walsh.
This is evidenced by the choreography, which incorporates ballet with aerial dance. The performers move through space by use of ropes, tapestries, ladders and each others’ bodies - to the music of a live electro rock band positioned on the stage.
One does not enter The Garden but is pulled in by forces familiar, yet unknown; suddenly transplanted to a place of contemplation, somewhere between heaven and hell. Although the production is not overtly religious, its themes explore the tension between good and evil, witnessed by a human battle with desire, fear, and passion.
The production consists of 12 pieces, uniquely structured to reflect an introduction to the Garden, whereupon one is greeted with a tension between primal nature and the modern day world.
In every act, several groups are involved in their own performances, fluidly blending from one to another. Each time the audience’s attention is summoned by one particular group of dancers, another group appears with moves topping the one before them. In an artistic battle of wits, the groups command the dance floor in what seems like a friendly yet serious competition for the attention of their audience. Haunting and mysterious, the choreography itself reflects the tension between various forces of nature.
The mastery with which the dancers express the emotions of the play and its creator are poignant and intriguing. Their skill, flexibility, and command of space and environment make it difficult to lose attention for even a second.
The creativity that birthed the idea commingles with the incredible talent of the dancers to produce a performance that is enchanting and fairy-tale like. Intensity and dedication result in characters whose audience knows no separation between performance and reality.
Performances take place at the Ivar Theater on the corner of Ivar and Selma Avenues, with a final performance on June 27 at 7 p.m. For more information about the Garden of Reason or MYO Productions, visit www.myodance.com or call 213-481-1028.