The View From 32


JULY 19, 2007   More below: TROIKA RANCH

Ingenuity starts on the beat

People of all ages and drummers at CSU PlazaPeople of all ages, and drummers—lots and lots of drummers—filled the plaza in front of the CSU Student Center for the kickoff event of this year's Ingenuity Festival of Art & Technology.

Similar to last year, this year hundreds of drummers, some local, others from African and Brazil, performed individually and together.

The Brazilian leading this colorful collection of drummers got them going with call-and-response:

Gradually Ingenuity's heartbeat picked up in tempo and volume until it thundered off the walls.

Dark clouds move in from the westThe weather followed suit, in its own way. Warm and sunny with a bit of a breeze when drummers started to fill the plaza, it began clouding up part-way through the performance. Eventually it got really dark and windy, a serious storm blowing in from the west.

Not to worry. It's Cleveland weather, after all. The crowd and performers didn't miss a beat, just marched into the shelter of the nearby library tower and continued the festivities.

As if it had been planned, the sun broke through and the rain stopped at about 7 pm, just in time for everyone to parade down Euclid Avenue to Playhouse Square where much of the festival is taking place.


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Troika Ranch

One of the first Ingenuity performances I went to was 16 (R)evolutions by Troika Ranch, a pioneering new media/performance art group founded in 1990. I walked into the Ohio Theater a little late, joining a good-sized crowd. To sum up the hour and fifteen minute performance, I'd say it was visually beautiful but slow-moving and ultimately hard to understand.

Troika Ranch performersFour dancers, often in pairs, went through a series of vignettes, many of which seemed to be based in a restaurant or at a dinner table. The apparent themes showed relationships—server/patron, male/female, above/below, clothed/unclothed.

The dancers often mimed ordinary activities—a woman shaving her armpits, a couple eating breakfast cereal—but at other times moved around the entire stage individually, in pairs, and occasionally as a group of four.

The best part of the performance was the use of projected light and patterns, often vertical or horizontal lines of pure white light. Most often the scene was painted in stark black and white, with color showing up only occasionally. The computer-controlled visuals responded to the dancers' movements, creating a high-tech shadowplay on the backdrop.

All in all the performance was a visual treat, but longer than necessary. This seems to be true with much of the performance art I've seen. Now it's true that one person's "slow-moving" is another's "contemplative," but still I'd have left happier after 45 minutes.

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