Lionel Popkin: There is An Elephant in This Dance (and at REDCAT)

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room, shall we?

Choreographer Lionel Popkin’s work has been characterized by its blend of “humor, precision, sensuality, subtlety and raw physical power.” So it shouldn’t surprise dance aficionados that Popkin’s latest work There is an Elephant in This Dance uses a pachyderm as a central, thematic element.

The dances featured in this work play against a plush elephant costume, worn as a whole outfit, or used in pieces to invite the audience in for a closer look at how “seemingly trivial, self-imposed constraints reveal the shifting states between discipline and freedom.”

In an essay on Popkin’s work, REDCAT Associate Director George Lugg writes:

There Is An Elephant In This Dance employs the presence of a man-size plush elephant head to evoke references to both the obvious and the unspoken—from religious iconography to personal cultural heritage to the arrival of parenthood. Popkin startles the viewer by subtly animating the object while simultaneously using it to reconfigure his dancing body. With sly humor and vivid imagery, he exploits the viewer’s growing attachment to a constructed “body” to slowly unearth the complexities and multiplicities that are housed within our skins. In There Is An Elephant In This Dance, the slippery qualities of abstract movement become a suitable map to the kind of interior spaces where people stop performing and start communicating.

Lionel Popkin: There is An Elephant in This Dance
at REDCAT
May 20-23
Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8:30 pm
Sunday at 3 pm
Tickets: $20, $16 students and $10 for CalArts students, faculty and staff

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