Saturday, April 15, 2017

California dreaming: Roya Carreras at the wild project

This weekend, Roya Carreras shows The Big Balloon at the wild project.
(photo: Jason Knade)

Choreographer Roya Carreras welcomes us into dreamy interiorized exteriors and minimized, constrained interiors in her childhood-memory piece The Big Balloon. Curated by Alexis Convento for her performance series, The CURRENT SESSIONS, Carreras multidisciplinary work will have its final show today at the wild project where aspects of it take over even the surface of a floor (film projection) and the surround of the lobby gallery and restrooms (soundscape).

Our complete immersion, executed by Carreras' team, is greatly enhanced by the close quarters of the space, the numbers of enthusiastic first-night fans and, ultimately, the convenience of a bar right there at the box office. Arrive for the roughly half-hour dance installation prelude--performed by the impeccable Fana Fraser--grab a drink, and you feel as if you have wondered into tiny East Village gallery opening.

Fraser's solo--performed just inside the lobby entrance, in the confines of a plywood enclosure filled with wonderfully-fragrant planting soil and decorated with a patch of artificial grass--interested me the most. Her relationship to the rich earth ranged from delicate and meditative to searching to aggressive. A few times, she ventured out onto the sidewalk to pick up a pot of geraniums to replant in the soil, but she herself seemed more the planted than the planter. Carreras' imageful work takes inspiration from her childhood in California where, I would imagine, the Iranian-Hispanic artist must have found solace in her family's garden.

What happens soon after the stroke of the hour, when we've wandered into the theater proper, is another matter--suggestive and fleeting, and I will not say more. Before the lights go down, Carreras allows us a hint in the stage decor that she shows and which, as the dance proceeds and ends, will perhaps become more meaningful to viewers. The dance itself--well performed by Caitlin Taylor, Elise Ritzel, Eloise DeLuca, Gregory Dolbashian and Maleek Washington--disturbed me in the way it depicted relationships between men and women. I found myself quite often checking out. But it's possible that Carreras' intent was to show us exactly what it was that turned me off.

That's a wild stab. I cannot say for sure. And I ended up not staying for the post-show Q&A. Having gotten tangled in the mob of people getting more drinks and lining up for the restroom, on second thought, I opted to just make my way home.

The Big Balloon concludes this afternoon and evening: lobby installation at 5:30pm, performance at 6pm followed by a wrap party at 7. Proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to the National Iranian American Council. For information and tickets, click here.

the wild project
195 East 3rd Street (between Avenues A and B), Manhattan
(map/directions)

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