Review: An Afrofuturistic Trip to the Lunarverse


Even before “Black Hole: Trilogy and Triathlon” begins, it’s already in an intriguing motion. As you take your seat at New York Live Arts, you can see a rugged mound against the backdrop of the darkened stage. The dots of light that illuminate this spot circulate and swell so it looks alive. Is there something there?

Yes, it turns out. Shamel Pitts, the choreographer of this Afrofuturist work, which had its New York premiere Thursday, emerges as a head-to-head body out of a linoleum, like coming out of a cocoon. Two more bodies follow: Tushrik Fredericks and Marcella Lewis, Tribe, a multidisciplinary artist group led by Pitts.

These bodies are bronze and creature. They are strong presence and control dancers. They slide as if they are developing, then they crawl and crab walk, then they stop and run. Progress is slow and collective. The three hinge bodies are generally linked, stacked, intertwined. They stand together and look at the light, the cosmos, just like people in science fiction movies do.

This light is Lucca Del Carlo’s video projection of the Moon. You may feel as if you are watching with night vision goggles. Sivan Jacobovitz and Zen Jefferson’s sci-fi music hints at the hum and rumble of a spaceship, whose choruses (pieces from John Tavener’s “Funeral Song”) rise from ambient synths – until the rumble turns into a pulse, a beat. It is the birth of the club.

At this point, the lights spin like the aurora borealis and the undulating dancers wave their hands in the air as if they don’t care. A supernova explosion sends them to spin together and then out of each other’s orbits, as in a teacup ride. Isolated, each in a different hue (red, blue, green), they act alone. Nina Simone’s hopeful radio tracks are coming up – “new dawn”, “new day” – but the dancers crumple, face to face.

Eventually, they reunite in a series of sculptural hugs, suffocating against the void and the cosmic cold, but also lavishly arranged for a fashion shoot. The final installment of a trilogy with “Black Box” and “Black Velvet,” the entire hour-long run is oddly chic and intimate, brilliantly cold and tender. Always visually stunning, never boring. But it happens from afar.

When the three of them are back in the cocoon, it’s not the end. With the tarp as a cloak or cloak, they become other compound creatures. Having lost the others, Lewis glances at the bow of a spaceship for a moment. The star-points seem to have been sucked into the center of the back wall, into the black hole where the three of them embraced. That’s where we lost them in the dark.

Shamel Pitts | clan

Saturday at New York Live Arts; newyorklivearts.org.



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