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Nichole Canuso Dance Company comes to 3LD

By Susan Reiter

Philadelphia has an active dance scene, but companies and artists from that nearby city rarely show their work in New York. One of its busier dancer-choreographers, Nichole Canuso, is coming to town this week with an installation piece entitled TAKES. In this hour-long work, Canuso and Dito Van Reigersberg's movement activity within a large translucent cube are filmed by three cameras and projected on the walls of the structure.

Canuso's bio says that her eight-year-old company "focuses on developing fully investigated and legible hybrid dance projects. These works exist at the crossroads of movement, visual art and theater." TAKES, which had its premiere in September 2010, is certainly representative of that focus. Canuso collaborated with Pablo N. Molina to create the software design for the piece while Lars Jan is responsible for the installation design; he edits and mixes the projected images live for each performance.

Speaking recently by phone from Philadelphia, Canuso explained the title, which refers to the idea of film takes."[It] suggests iterations of the same moment; one gets chosen, the rest fall away." She described the piece as a "snapshot of two people's lives over time."

Her own movements in TAKES have a wild looseness verging on gawkiness; Van Reigersberg is more contained. Their projected images at times dwarf them, other times creating a dense layering of overlaps and confrontations.

"Everything you see is a live feed," Canuso explained. "There are three cameras in the space. We're doing the editing by where we place our bodies in space. We're choreographing for the live audience and the cameras at the same time. In some spots, we're in view of all three cameras. We've memorized the map of that. It now feels second nature.

"It was a fantastic challenge, especially as a dancer/choreographer, considering both perspectives-being aware that the detail that a camera can pick up needed to be balanced with the energy an audience needed. This installation forces you to think about macro and micro perspective at the same time."

The audience is encouraged to view the work from various perspectives, since "each wall shows different images and the piece looks different from up close and far away. Everybody has a different way of watching, we've found," she said. At 3LD, chairs will be placed around the space and people can switch locations as often as they like.

Michael Kiley is the sound designer/composer for TAKES. Some of the musical selections represent what the performing couple play on the record player within their space, which includes a chair, but little else. Canuso describes the score as "a mix of sounds that captures everyday life. The record player in the couple's space is a big part of their relationship. Choosing the albums we play was tricky, since they come with connotations. It's important that the sound comes from within the space."

TAKES actually has two components. During gallery hours on Saturday, people are invited to enter the projection cube to create their own dance within the installation. "Being on the inside is an amazing experience," Canuso observes. "During gallery hours, people become the characters and we give prompts."

Takes. Jan. 5?8, 3LD Arts and Technology Center, 80 Greenwich St. (at Rector St.), 866-811-4111; $10.

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