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REVIEW: String Theory's 'Remembering Water'Arts Meme

Everything about "Remembering Water," a fully integrated dance-and-rock music pageant offered by Los Angeles-based String Theory at Santa Monica's charming Miles Playhouse, appealed to me.

"Remembering Water," which repeats next weekend, is really pure joy. Spooling through 13 staged rock songs for a nicely compact 65 minutes, the highly versatile and handsome troupe of 11 artists (seven musicians, four dancers) radiate a spontaneous pleasure in art-making that is rarely seen, and difficult for any viewer to resist.

String Theory

A promising sight greeted the audience upon arrival: a stageful of powerful musical instruments including five medium-sized kettle drums, a huge string bass, multiple electric guitars, drum trap and the piece de résistance slicing the air space, Luke and Holly Rothschild's signature, long-stringed harp employed as a sculptural centerpiece. The twanging and plucking of this instrument is cleverly converted into a dance occasion. String Theory uses every square inch of the Miles's proffered footage, including a smallish but beautifully lit raised stage area, with wood-floored performance space stretching toward the audience seated on risers. Even the room's corners hosted activity, and at one point, an upright piano got dragged across the space whilst being played. Careful decision making seems to have gone into the evening's clever staging arrangements.

An excellent quartet of dancers traipsed in an out of the program, as though in a variety show. Two slender and leggy leading ladies, Livinia Findikoglu and Andrea Sobke, garbed like foxy vixens in black mini-dresses, suspenders and bare legs, squirmed and squiggled like the final water drops shaken from a garden hose. Joined by Danny Dolan and Tess Hewlett, the foursome (well) executed Holly Rothschild's athletic pairings, and they also took up unusual tasks. They acted as do-wop-style back-up singers; they banged kettle drums behind Holly Rothschild's demonic leadership; they donned harnesses and stretched the strings of a living harp across the stage. In my favorite episode, each dancer dragged a tiny amplifier on a long chord, like a tiny pet poodle or a child's piece of luggage, spilling forth ambient sound, primarily heavy breathing while moving and posing. A witty extension of the evening's stringed motif.

The creativity was organized around each of thirteen original songs, some soulful, even celestial. While the music strayed toward a mystical cultish sound, it didn't take itself too seriously, with one number self-named, "Dirge." Indeed it was. Everyone sang; I liked this, but Robert Amjarv took a strong lead in this area. The band found a real driving force in Julie Pusch's whining violinist – she, too, doubled and tripled her duties, singing, playing the synthesizer and then piano.

What most appealed most to this viewer was the choice performance space, the vintage and spiritual Miles Memorial Playhouse. The Spanish Colonial revival style playhouse, dating to 1929, seems to be thriving under the careful care of landlord The City of Santa Monica. Even the tiled restrooms, impeccably clean, are splendid in this treasured small theater.

Arts Meme

Arts Meme

Fly away, String Theory, fly away...

The adventurous dance + music ensemble String Theory assembles its massive stringed harp instrument for a site specific performance piece at the Van Nuys Fly Away this coming weekend.

Heidi Duckler's troupe just presented a piece at the mass transit hub as well.

String Theory's work, "Compositions of Sound and Space," intends to infuse the plaintive bus depot with a combination of sound sculpture, dance and music.

String Theory

String Theory is a collaborative ensemble of musicians and dancers that utilize invented instruments and sonic sculpture to create their sonic footprint. Their large-scale performance installations transform environments and architecture into giant musical instruments. Behind the ensemble is instrument designer/builder and composer, Luke Rothschild; choreographer/director, Holly Rothschild; and cellist, composer, Joseph Harvey.

Sounds very good. What matters for Angelenos is that the performances are early, six pm, a good traffic-avoidance time. Also, it's outdoors — so good for kids.

String Theory has other cool upcoming gigs. They include Yerba Buena Cultural Center Center in San Francisco on October 13. Then the following day, October 14, they join David Byrne and Trent Reznor at the Aratani/ Japan America Theatre in Little Tokyo.

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