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21st-century Russian avant-garde is on stage in Reynolds Theater this week with Iguan Dance Theater Company’s “Displaced Persons.” Iguan is a three-person group of blazingly smart, physically adept multi-talented artists who create a very compelling stage world. For this 40-minute work, Mikhail Ivanov did the choreography and music; Nina Gasteva, the set, costumes, and direction; and Anastasia Kadruleva, the lighting design.
They all perform in a strange and wonderful combination of mime, trance dancing, balletic modern, and comedy. The pulsing beat of Ivanov’s club music gradually increases its intensity, and the movements become faster and faster. Ivanov and Gasteva, dressed in black and white, flash around the black and white set, moving chairs and lamps and red “flowers” on tall springy stalks through a changing terrain of light-shapes projected on the floor and backdrop. A dramatically elongated shadow dances behind the scrim — Kadruleva bursts forth, a lithe young woman with a ferocious haircut and a great rear, in a short red dress.
Kadruleva is sizzling, a gorgeous dancer. For her second entrance, she comes on by undulating across the floor under a squiggle-patterned rug. It is like watching a manta ray, very odd in this environment, and her emergence and subsequent incarnation as a snarling beast is no less disorienting. Meantime, Ivanov and Gasteva keep up their obsessive, often mirrored, motions.
I don’t want to spoil the jokes for anyone who may see the piece, so let me just say I laughed out loud repeatedly. This is serious work, but it can laugh at itself. The group’s press materials say that their productions “combine vivid humor and a deep philosophical look at surrounding life.” For once, the press kit does not exaggerate. This is heady stuff, all done with bodies.
The evening’s program opens with a solo by former Chelyabinsk Contemporary dancer Vladimir Golubev. The solo, all alone, outside of the context of a larger dance, is a notoriously difficult form. “Not Unsteady Support” is 30 minutes in length and would be twice too long at ten minutes. This highly regrettable exercise in self-indulgence has nothing to recommend it other than its demonstration of how to use a drying rack as a flying machine.