As Experienced at the La Jolla Playhouse’s 2022 WOW Festival
The Show & How it Works:
Somnium is a dance performance that makes use of choreography and projection mapping, “creating a 3D environment in which body and background environment become one.”
Why it’s Interesting, IMHO:
Projection mapping can be used in any number of ways; I was curious how it would be integrated into this show. And, for some reason — perhaps the use of the word “architecture” in the show description — I suspected that the projections might actually be on some of the buildings or monuments. In actuality, the projections were on screens that had been hung from and between the buildings.
Initial Impression & Critical Discussion:
I was struck by how the motion of the projected imagery made the performance more active and more engaging. At first it wasn’t readily apparent how the “mapping” was integrated; the first projection didn’t show an obvious correlation between the dancers’ movement and the movement on screen. Later projections did: some showed an enlarged, pixelated version of the dancers’ movements, which was very compelling.
In either case, the projection allows the dancers to take up more space; the performance isn’t limited to their footprint on stage, it is also dancing on the walls. And in the specific instances where the dancers’ movements are projected on screen, thanks to the very slight lag between their actions and the projection’s replication, the projection makes the dancers seem powerful. What we’re seeing — the effects of their movements—tell us this dance matters: it’s changing the world around us.
Experiential Viewpoint Expression (E.V.E.):
Embodied, 3rd person visual, 3rd person narrative, non-entity, robot.
Who Should See This?
I’d recommend this to anyone, especially those who are open to new approaches to art and those who might be concerned that a dance performance won’t hold their attention; with the added element of projection mapping, this show may do a better job of holding the attention of those who have a short span.