“… with the ballerina die all traditional rules of musical performance.”
You go to Symphony Hall to watch a classical orchestra perform. Like concerts throughout history, you’re one person fastened to your seat, lost amidst a huge audience composed of thousands of faces forced in one direction: the stage. When you go to an opera, same difference. The only variations are based on who has more money and gets a better view.
Club Oberon has a smattering of tables and a stage, but during AcousticaElectronica, the giant dance floor shatters these rules of classical form.
After an opening DJ set by the co-founder of Boston’s Mmmmaven DJ school and the Together electronic music festival David Day, complete with dancers pulling us with them onto the floor, a violinist and pianist take the stage, playing Chopin and Beethoven over the WIG‘s rambunctious house music back-beats. The conductor, who also happens to be the Director of toUch performance art, Colin Thurmond, in his three piece suit and bow tie, directs the seductive dance moves of a woman dressed in red and black leather who will later sing the Habanera from the opera Carmen. Her soaring alto continues steadfastly when the four-on-the-floor dance beat fills out the rhythm and The WIG moves into his remix (listen below).
A ballerina clothed all in white opens the show on stage with all of these characters, her white tu-tu bounces as she pirouettes to increasing bpms, never missing a step, until she is eventually slain by Thurmond’s baton (he later duels with the digital dance music wielding an electric guitar as his weapon) With the ballerina die all traditional rules of musical performance.
This rebellion is AcousticaElectronica.
This is modern art.
And as the performance shatters the wall between the audience and the musicians, the club mentality takes over – as you dance, you are part of the show. There’s no one focal point – the best parts are when you have to do a 360 spin and scan the entire club from floor to ceiling to see where the next number will take place. Sometimes, your head tilts fully back to gape in awe at the gorgeous, spinning aerial acrobats with glittering faces. A kaleidoscope of colored lights spotlight their white leotards, accentuating the movement of their bodies as they twist and twirl, dancing in the air. Seemingly weightless.
At points, all heads in the club whip upward in unison when the tempo speeds to the highest point yet. Drum and bass kicks in and the club plunges into total darkness – except the orange and blue LED-suits of dancers that appear marching high above you on the balcony at the back of the club. Even the three dancers who are vying to be chosen as the best sex partners for the one male dancer – saturated libidos portrayed beautifully through alluring dance moves. Simply put, you are watching people have sex through dance.
This makes sense, as the essence of dance is some sort of primal, irrational connection.
All hearts beat in unison to club beats. Shoulders bounce along with The Wig’s glowing drumsticks. The hundreds of sets of lips around me mirror the huge smile on his face – an infectious malady of love for the dance music he’s playing throughout the whole performance. To see all of that energy in the club melt seamlessly into a classical piano solo when the bass disappears, and all of that adrenaline focus on a man in a suit playing Beethoven … to see the lights move from the red of the intense sexual dance into refreshing blues as white smoke pours from the man’s and the piano’s feet and out onto the dance floor, as we’re all strung along now by his fingers pushing keys, submitting to delicate, rolling notes from within a cloud.
To see one form of music blend into it’s older form, that back-and-forth, is something I’ve thought about – but to see it realized before my eyes and not just while watching Fifth Element was really fucking cool.
Then the beat returns, again highlighting how seamlessy the piano classic merges with a dance rhythm. It shows that music is an evolution, but, like math, each new kind simply builds upon the same foundations and it all fits together – the rhythmic undercurrent is there whether the violin is played alone or over a faster beat. Listen to someone play Bach and look left and right, people’s heads are nodding in unison. Now just accentuate the beat and add more of them to the measure, call it “dance music,” and there’s modern EDM, but it’s all dance music. Even Colin thurmond’s epic guitar solos convey a driving emotion, something that hooks everyone in and moves us.
A bunch of our writers have done previews for AcousticaElectronica, and they always quote “It’s like Cirque du Soleil meets a rave.” A better description would be totally unbelievable.
This was the COOLEST blend of theatre, all types of music, dance, opera and creation of an atmosphere in a space that I have ever seen. It was story-telling through music and dance and music and dance are what I live for.
At times, I teared up, not just because it was so gorgeously orchestrated, but because all of the dancers and musicians were so happy the whole time. This is one of the most passionate casts I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching perform together. The Wig is probably my favorite person in the world right now. To watch him play is like watching a little kid walk downstairs on Christmas morning and see all of the presents under the tree– but he has that look on his face for the entire show. For three hours he did not stop smiling or dancing once, his blonde curls bouncing all the while.
When the show ends, he shouts, “Alright people, I have you til 2 am!” and that communal feeling of dancing in sync with everyone in the club does not skip a beat. It just continues. If only every dance night could have an AcousticaElectronica performance, no one would sit against the wall again.
PHOTOS BY GUSTAV HOILAND. CATCH THE LAST PERFORMANCE OF ACOUSTICAELECTRONIC OF THE SEASON THIS FRIDAY 8.31.12!