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'Tesseract' (Atlas, Mitchell, Riener) - Barbican Theatre

Tesseract by Charles Atlas, Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Riener is an "impressive exploration of the relationship between the human form and technology, in two distinct parts". The performance brought incredible inspiration and awe, by appealingly and interestingly combining contemporary dance performance with art, 3D visuals, technology and music.

Charles Atlas / Rashaun Mitchell / Silas Riener. © Nathan Keay

The first part of the show was entirely screened in 3D and presented a fascinating dance performance by multiple dancers in various settings, such as the black-and-white geometric scenery, Mars-like landscape or IR light-inspired set design and filter. Despite it being difficult to watch the film in 3D at times, the performance displayed immense points of interest. I was particularly fond of the authors’ ingeniosity in incorporating the set design and music into the dance performance, hence creating a specific mood, suspension or feeling of fear and uneasiness. The strong display of geometry was both fascinating and compelling in the way it responded to the choreography. Perhaps the 3D effect allowed the audience to further be a part of the spectacle and emphasised the importance of technology. Indeed, the performance was incredibly innovative because of the way it was presented to the audience.

Charles Atlas / Rashaun Mitchell / Silas Riener, Tesseract, Silas Riener, Ensemble. © Ray Felix / EMPAC

The second part of the performance was an extension to the first, but was live, instead. Here, the contemporary dance performance was at play with live technology and art. The performance was presented through live filming, and the live filming effects and filters enhanced interpretation of the performance. Furthermore, the different positions of the camera had an effect on the meaning of the choreography, exposing technology in a daring and new way. The technology used played an essential role in the perception of the choreography, the dancers, their emotions and expression. At the same time, it played an important aesthetic role – it was incredibly interesting to see how angles (and thus perspectives) changed, how different post-production effects (such as slow motion, visual dissonance) played with the choreography. It was particularly striking for the audience to see the filmed dancing in front of them, whilst, at the same time, view the dancers performing live. The result was the presentation of a multitude of perspectives and perhaps, that was the point of the performance. This was enhanced by a neutral set design and costumes, everything being kept in abstract and geometric aesthetics.

Charles Atlas / Rashaun Mitchell / Silas Riener, Tesseract, Charles Atlas, Ryan Thomas Jenkins, Ensemble. © Mick Bello / EMPAC

The performance was highly thrilling, as a whole, as it presented technology and used it in an innovative fashion. For any technology enthusiast, the way technology enhanced the dance performance and created more interpretations was inspiring. Certainly the application of technology to the arts, such as contemporary dance and performance, is a very innovative way of questioning its use and effect on its users. Even though this never seemed to be implied directly because of its level of abstraction, the performance hinted at the way technology enables its users to share their own perspective.

Charles Atlas / Rashaun Mitchell / Silas Riener, Tesseract, Charles Atlas, Ryan Thomas Jenkins, Ensemble. © Mick Bello / EMPAC

Edited by Evangeline Stanford, Digital Editor



28 February – 2 March

Barbican Theatre

Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS

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