“Construct,” by Tanja Liedtle, was a very passionate and expressive work. It explores a narrative of life, and the emotions felt within life experiences. When researching performance choices for this analysis, I was drawn to the overview of, “Construct,” from, “On the Boards TV,” which states this performance as, “a tongue-in-cheek look at the act of making performance and the connection to building a home, a relationship and a life. ” As an artist, mother, and wife, this topic intrigued me immensely.
I know first-hand the day to day juggle and battle to create a solid foundation for a future career, while also protecting, nurturing, and supporting, my family. I feel this performance really captured the emotional experience of everyday life, and the progression through life. It was passionate, and passion is a bittersweet emotion. One moment can feel like pure ecstasy, while the very next pure hell. Yet, you cannot experience one extreme, without risk of the other. This performance captured both sides of the spectrum, and I feel every individual experiences these emotions to some degree in their life.
The movement was performed by three dancers, Kristina Chan, Alessandra Mattana, and Paul White. The dancers use simple building materials as props, which create a very unique and interesting environment, constantly changing around them. The performance explores the way we construct our lives through the use of literal, and metaphorical means. It portrays a very wide ray of life experiences such as showering, and using the toilet, and even exploring the progression and cycle of life through innocent infatuation, love, sex, birth, death, all the way to murder and suicide.
The show starts with all three performers sharing an almost psychotic grin, and immediately the two females drop stiff as a board. They seem to have an almost rag doll appearance. The male dancer, Paul White, rushes back and forth across the stage to catch and manipulate them, as they tip over. The performance almost seems to depict a strange love triangle, in which White is attempting to juggle supporting both women. After rushing about stacking and piling them, he ultimately seeks the assistance of a hand held electric drill, which he uses to control and manipulate them into their final position; where he drills them into place.
Several times throughout the performance, lights and shadows were used to express the story’s emotion, and aided the narrative. The dancers use the smallest amount of movement, using only their hand and fingers to cast shadows, which looked like dancers interacting on the back wall. This style of expression seemed to create an emotion of innocent and sincerity. They also use just the movement of their fingers, without the shadow puppetry. This too seemed very effective. I was really amazed how the dancers just used their hands and fingers, yet it came across so expressive and sincere.
It seemed to aid in the variety of the overall show. I never knew what to expect next. One minute I felt innocent again, viewing the very same shadow puppets I had once created, and then with the blink of the eye I’m viewing topless petting, with erotic moans and embraces. The lighting, music, and props all seemed to aid effectively in creating the right environment for the narrative. The variety of music and sound effects, along with the change in lighting, seemed very effective and created a smooth transition for tempo changes.
The props seemed to be used in an extreme and powerful manner. The final image of White building a lattice structure around the female dancer, which forms an almost tomb type of entrapment was so overwhelming. From the lighting to the gradual building of the form, I felt as if I was watching a human being transformed into a sculpture of intense meaning. It gave me goose bumps. I feel the narrative expressed was both literal and metaphorical. This piece spoke to me on a very intimate level. I believe it explored how we can build the life we want, or think we want.
However, once it is finally obtained in all its glory, we might then just realize that all we built was a prison around us; an entrapment through physical and psychological shelter. It really brought goose bumps to arms. The modern choreography and intensity the dancers brought to the stage was incredible. The whole performance from the jolly sarcasm to the yelling of, “building foundations for dreams,” created an outstanding story, full of meaning, energy, and passion. My only regret is not being able to view it real life.