Everybody’s had those dreams where you’re in the middle of some crazy scenario, like walking along an ocean of pink lemonade on a beach of granulated sugar and talking to Russell Brand about hair treatments, when you actually realize you’re in a dream—am I right? Well this very thing happened to me Friday night, except right after I realized I was in a dream I realized that I actually was not in a dream at all but just thought I was. I’m not kidding, that’s just what it felt like attending a Plan performance called “Hallways to Harbors,” directed and choreographed by Kenyon Acton with installations and technical design by Ben Lieberson.
It all started with being ushered down the hallway to Ragle Hall, not to the seats as usual but to the stage door of all places, by senior Ruth Stark, who gestured for us to follow her as if she were wafting the aromatic steam off a pot of soup. We could hear beautiful piano music, and in a closet by the stage, yes a closet, there was the graceful Michaela Woods ’10 standing on a ladder behind a gauzy net, with electronic angle motion sensors on her elbows and knees controlling the colored spotlights. She was slowly turning and climbing up and down and the lights were changing color and the music was making my knees weak and all I could think was, “Where is that beach of granulated sugar?”
And the dream went on from there, as dreams do, as we moved into Ragle to see sea sprites playing in the waves (the seats) under singing stars, a bicyclist powering a disco ball, a troupe of dancers resolving conflicts by rolling over each other with giant phone-line spools, a quartet of angels singing a processional in heavenly four-part harmony, suave couples dancing the tango in the lobby and a girl dreaming about a eerie, glowing, wavy line that comes to life. I mean, the Rudolf and Irene Serkin Center for the Performing Arts is not just a long name, it’s a big building with lots of nooks and crannies and halls and, yes, closets, and this performance had something going on in most of these spaces.
I must still be a wee bit bedazzled from the Embodied Learning Symposium we had on campus a couple weeks ago, because I felt like Kenyon and Ben’s production was a total sensorial workout. You know, instead of just sitting in an auditorium dazed by an entire dance recital we were moving around, changing venues, passing among the performers, seeing others in the audience. We were all crowded together up there on stage, for crying out loud, and I have to say I felt like I sat up a little straighter, breathed a little deeper and took in the whole scene of synchronized sea sprites like I might be asked to dive in at any time.