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Virtual Reality 

Real-life dancers perform with their video game counterparts in an inventive new production by Capacitor

Wednesday, May 15 2002
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Over the last five years, Jodi Lomask's Oakland-based dance company, Capacitor, has brought new meaning to the word "interdisciplinary." Fusing gymnastics, modern dance, and martial arts with circus techniques, special effects, and the odd bit of fire juggling, the group consistently pushes the artistic envelope. Capacitor's last show, Within Outer Spaces, was a bold interpretation of the universe's creation in which dancers gave mesmerizing life to atoms, various life forms, and solar systems, all intermingling in an endless time continuum.

The company's latest endeavor, Flux Capacitor Avatars, explores the impact of video games on contemporary culture. Walking the line between fantasy and reality, five dancers will take the stage as physically tangible warriors who embody the five Chinese elements of earth, metal, water, wood, and fire, while their virtual counterparts (animated movements that also correspond to the elements) are projected above and behind them. Artistic Director Lomask, who conceived and choreographed the piece, collaborated with a studio that works in motion capture (a technology that represents motion in three-dimensional space) to create this visceral juxtaposition between real-life heroism and the heroism of the digital age.

Capacitor's work is nothing if not complex: Its evening-length compositions often resemble poetry in their deft representations of thought and emotion. The company's mission of fusion extends beyond its material, attracting everyone from sit-down theater crowds to late-night ravers. Avatars (which means "incarnations" in Sanskrit) appears in a traditional theater setting for its early shows; later performances happen in a dance-club setting, interspersed with DJ sets of techno and house music. A performance-art installation by Vainglorious at the entrance inducts all comers into the otherworldly ceremonies.

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Karen Macklin

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