Ingri  Fiksdal’s STATE explores the role of dance as ritual in society and was performed in the Contemporary Arts Center’s black box theatre.  Accompanied by live performance of Lasse Marhaug’s noise music soundtrack, STATE uses a combination of modern dance choreography and improvised movement to bring Fiksdal’s commentary on dance and ritual to life. 

The musicians and dancers perform in-the-round, making costume changes and music preparation part of the audience’s experience.  The musicians stand behind one table and use prepared tones as well as amplified struck objects and digital manipulation to create loud drones and metronomic beats.  Long periods of crescendo lead to sonic chaos, which belie any expectation of “ritual music” as used within any world culture.  The volume dynamics which include swings from silence to 120db pulses make certain the audience is never lulled into a sense of familiarity.

Photo: Julie Mullins

Heinrich Vibskov, who serves as the production’s costume designer, brings the highlight to STATE.  His use of fabric movement and pattern as the dancers execute each scene bring several references to folk cultures.   

The initial scene find the dancers crouching and slowly moving within drawn up cloths tense with motion.  A clear nod to the burka is apparent and then disappears as each enveloping sack covers and then is discarded by each dancer.  Whirling dervishes make several appearances in the performances and Vibskov uses their motion to full advantage.  Another cultural reference is the Iberian tradition of bullfighting as represented by the Matador’s Muleta.  Each of Vibskov’s cultural transformations track the choreography but the music remains disconnected to any sense of ethnicity. 

Fiksdal’s concept of dance as ritual seems to nod to all continents and presumably attempts to find the commonalities amongst cultures.  While the performance is a dense combination of improvisation and modern movement it is unexpectedly held together by the brilliant palette and textures used in the costumes.  It is unfortunate that the noise music accompaniment seems a jarring wedge in this otherwise cohesive work. 

The live performance of sound combined with the improvised portions of movement means that an opportunity for a synergistic event was diminished by the droning noise nature of the music.   


Ingrid Fiksdal

February 21,22

Contemporary Arts Center

44 E 6th St Cincinnati

–Will Newman

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