Luminarium Dance Debuts “Mythos: Pathos”

(L to R) Jessica Jacob, Jess Chang, Rose Abramoff, Hannah Hildreth, Mark Kranz, and Melenie Diarbekirian in “Seirēn” for “Mythos: Pathos”. Choreography by Merli V. Guerra. Photo by Ryan Carollo.

On August 3 and 4, Luminarium Dance Company debuted its latest project Mythos:Pathos at the Center for the Arts at the Armory in Somerville, MA. The new work offers a contemporary take on lesser known characters and stories from Greek mythology. Like Luminarium Dance’s previous showcases, the combination of unique lighting design and innovative staging creates exhilarating and unexpected pieces.

The program began with an informal pre-performance number. Several audience members barely noticed the four dancer’s presence as they casually moved throughout the venue. By abandoning the traditional stage, this pre-performance served as an ideal introduction to the company’s signature stylistic markers: experimental choreography in an unconventional space. The program then segued into seven pieces, ranging from solos to group numbers. An excerpt from “Sieren” and “Of good, evil” displayed the company’s masterful brilliance and stylistic range. “Icarus” and “Prometheus” are subdued yet moving numbers that seamlessly merged together to conclude the evening’s program.

While the group performances are enchanting and memorable, it is the solo pieces that stand out in this production. “Andromeda” is a technical and artistic wonder. It is a fascinating combination of visual art and dance. Here a dancer wearing wooden contraption that flickers and is attached to a pewter bra (read more about the costume here) slowly makes her way across the stage. The idea is that we are witnessing Andromeda after she has become a constellation and becomes aware of her new surroundings. The result is a moving solo. In comparison, “Hubris” is a simpler piece. Instead of an intricate costume and complex lighting, only a single light illuminated the dancer and highlighted the high ceilings in the Armory. This piece will be intriguing to see when it is presented in other venues later this year.

Melenie Diarbekirian in “Andromeda” for Mythos:Pathos. Choreography by Merli V. Guerra. Photo by Julia E. Wagner.

In Mythos:Pathos, stories from Greek mythology provide artistic directors Merli V. Guerra and Kimberleigh A. Holman with a perfect starting point to craft their respective pieces. Each choreographer has chosen different paths to take with the stories. “Andromeda”, for instance, follows the character after the more well-known aspects of her story have taken place, allowing for a new (and strikingly feminist) exploration of this character.

Although Luminarium Dance’s past productions featured excellent work, the individual pieces were not necessarily linked by any common theme or motifs. But in Mythos:Pathos, the performances – and the productions overall artistic vision – come together like a perfectly crafted puzzle. Nevertheless, Mythos:Pathos is a work in progress. The pieces I saw at the Armory are not what audiences will see during performances at the Arsenal Center for the Arts in Watertown at the end of August and Oberon on November 29. These upcoming performances will be just as enthralling. What makes Luminarium Dance Company’s work exhilarating to watch is seeing how the artistic directors adapt their pieces to multiple venues.

Lastly, in Mythos:Pathos, we see how Luminarium Dance Company has progressed since its October 2010 debut. A show like Mythos:Pathos would not have been conceivable during the company’s first season. But as Lumiunarium Dance’s reputation and their commitment to creating new, envigorating pieces has grown, Mythos:Pathos is an indication that this dance company has no creative limits.

(L to R) Virginia Byron, Hannah Hildreth, and Merli V. Guerra in “Of good, evil” for Mythos: Pathos. Choreography by Kimberleigh A. Holman. Photo by Ryan Carollo.

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