Saturday, April 29, 2017


Bang bang you shot me down
Bang bang I hit the ground
Bang bang that awful sound
Bang bang my baby shot me down

I grew up competing in martial arts, an art form steeped in and influenced by violence. From this training, there was heightened stress upon the needlessness of most violence and that one should only enact violence when pushed to the final point of survival. At this same point of development in the late 80's and 90's, I was living through one of the highest points of martial arts inspired action movies. My passion for these violent films mixed with the respect of violence supported by my martial arts training creates a very interesting background to explore this topic.

With the aid of a huge projection screen filling the entire back wall of the performance space, RADICAL SYSTEM ART begins its latest production with a series of action scenes that set the tone for a sixty minute tour de force. GLORY elegantly and enigmatically represents forms of intimacy, violence, interplay, and a segment of group bondage enforced upon a single body in a way that is simultaneously playful, intense, and laced with a touch of electrifying live action summoning images of laser duels, Star Wars, comic book heroes and street fighting. 

A segment featuring the recorded song 'Bang Bang' sets two female dancers apart from the male performers as the women portray a kind of cool and collected (almost comic) framing agency and authority over the men's physical struggle. 

The choreography is stunningly executed throughout the entire show as bodies seamlessly execute moves that twist and turn with immaculate and mesmerizingly sharp precision - at times inspiring a kind of awe at the human forms ability to magically synchronize itself with other bodies as it flies away, in fits and knots, from shockingly close encounters.
Although the entire ensemble bears incredible facility within each tightly choreographed segment, there is one particularly muscled body that appears, disappears, then reappears according to the tightness of his costume. He is frequently disguised in less tightly contoured apparel as an effective disguise from his full bodied moments. In the bulked up form fitting ensembles he is dragged across the stage, at times upright and at times on all fours or limb-less-ly horizontal, like a sinewy puppet who, although fully disabled by his controlling cohorts, still manages to perform beautifully shaped movements and rapture like contortions as the strings his company pulls around him act as gorgeous lifelines for this unique and exhilarating choreographic ployful play.
Other segments include romantic duets replete with an iconic red dress and ensemble members joining the duo for a kind of Romeo and Juliet denouement that is riveting - deceptively embroidered with a joyfully melancholy testament to a community of mourning, reinvention and recovery.

Ultimately, it is this varied play of 'violence' that becomes the most startling and exciting through line for the overall effect of GLORY. Sections part way through take this complex/deceptive effect, and through the use of an onstage camera held by other dances who use their hands to guide the performer they are filming, create yet another captive subject not unlike the puppet strings of an earlier segment. Pinocchio's nose has grown and the aesthetic truths and lies it tells are put forth through the eye of the camera lens.  

By projecting the live image upon the huge back wall, depicting the hands of the film maker in a way that spectators cannot fully see on the stage, produces a simple yet incredible double layered effect whereby relationships (the beckoning of camera holding hands close to the dancing subject) between the performers are strengthened and multi faceted. This contributes further layers to the overall sense of violence as a diverse act of love, joy, terror, and control. Perhaps there is a better word for this effect, not violence, perhaps elegant intensity better suits the end result of this program that SHAY KUEBLER RADICAL SYTEM ART has named GLORY, and articulated in a brief definitional moment in the program; listed below, beneath the promo photos for this complex and highly entertaining show -


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