Here’s a more concrete visual reference to the PR about ALIAS’s Sideways Rain depicting “the human condition, the evolution of Man and the transformations of the universe”: It’s basically a performed version of the arcade video game Frogger. The dancers are cars. There is no frog.
I don’t mean to be derisive with the analogy — there were times when I was so physically moved by the motion of the 15 performers yesterday at Serralves 40 Hour Party that I actually felt hypnotized. Other times I felt nauseous. Others still, elated.
At the risk of stating the obvious, Sideways Rain is about finding creative ways to break the force of powerful emotional, physical and musical currents. This is made clear even at the beginning of the piece, though at that point, choreographer Guilherme Botelho is mostly establishing a vocabulary of movement. The curtain opens with the 15 performers crawling across the floor, each in the same direction and at the same speed. They look like crayfish. Then a layer of music is added – a sharp piano key repeated — and one or two figures moves faster. This is more or less the basis for which change occurs.
The most powerful parts of the performance occur when the pull of the body is pushed against most powerfully by the dancers. At one point, each run, stop and nearly fall over, as if pushed by an invisible force. It’s incredibly hard to watch. Harder still though, is the scene in which dancers runs backwards across the stage each pulling a line of white string. As a viewer it’s completely disorienting to watch a gaze that moves in the opposite direction of the body.
This occurs near the end of the piece, and while I won’t spoil the end for anyone (not that it’s exactly a cliff hanger anyway) I will say I hope this piece travels to BAM. It would make a lot of sense in the context of their current programming and is exactly the calibre of work New York should be showcasing.