The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Aszure Barton & Busk

By Meghan O’Sullivan

On Wednesday, November 9, Aszure Barton and Artists Dance Company performed at the Williams Center for the Arts. Surprisingly crowded for a weekday night, Williams saw a sizable crowd of Easton residents and students alike.

The director, choreographer and founder of Aszure Barton and Artists is celebrated Canadian performer Aszure Barton. Barton began tap dancing at age three and quickly ascended in the world of international dance.

As the Ambassador of Contemporary Choreography in Alberta, Barton’s significant works of choreography include Broadway’s production of The Threepenny Opera and various works of film. Barton is currently an artist-in-resident at the Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York City.

An innovative dance project that began in New York in 2002, Aszure Barton and Artists tours throughout the world, performing in the United States, Europe, Brazil, Argentina, Asia, Africa, Australia and Canada. The performance combines movement, imagery and sound in order to redefine societal expectations of dance.

The first number entitled “Blue Soap,” opened with a lighthearted soundtrack and a dance with the appearance of causal strolling. The cast, except for a lone dancer in the front of the stage, stood with their backs to the audience.

The performance shifted between airy, casual dancing and primitive movements combined with tribal music. The soundtrack combined a montage of international works, acoustic sounds and recording clips of Maya Angelou’s poetry readings.

The entire cast wore vibrant blue suits, which accompanied with same-sex dance partners, tested the idea of society-defined gender roles. The suits also created a dynamic visual spectacle, as the intense color contrasted with a bright orange backdrop and spotlights.

“Busk,” the second performance of the night, began with the black-and-white image of a forest projected upon the backdrop. An unseen dancer was so well camouflaged standing in front of the screen that he was all but invisible until he moved.

This time, the entire cast was dressed in baggy black hooded sweatshirts and sweatpants. The number juxtaposed desolate poverty with false cheerfulness. Various dancers appeared juggling, riding a unicycle and miming throughout the number creating a carnival-like atmosphere.

In contrast the dancers also wandered throughout the crowd offering their hats out in pretend acts of beggary.

One of the most striking aspects of Aszure Barton’s work is its element of shock. The dancers employed various methods of unnerving the audience, including spontaneously screaming, staring audience members unflinchingly in the eye, standing still for extended periods of time and even sitting amongst the crowd during the performance.

The performance turned out to be a very powerful and unique piece of modern dance. Barton commented on her unconventional methods in an interview for New York Magazine claiming, “classical form is amazing, but to break free from it is, too.”

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