Salsa masters, Kinodance open MCLA Presents!
The second season of MCLA Presents! kicks off with shows that will have audiences dancing at an outdoor concert and enjoying a dance performance in a unique art installation.
The series launches Sunday, September 20, at 3 p.m. when Alex Torres and His Latin Orchestra perform in the campus Quad. Thursday, September 24, the Boston-based Kinodance Company presents The Refractive Kinoscope at 6 p.m., 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. in the MCLA Gallery 51 Annex.
Founded in 1980 in Amsterdam, NY, Alex Torres and His Orchestra perform an original blend of Afro-Caribbean rhythms, including salsa, merengue, cha-cha, bomba, plena and Latin jazz. They appear at hundreds of festivals and arts centers each year.
Torres says the group's musicianship has evolved over the 29 years they've been together.
"We've got seasoned musicians and like fine wine, we get better with age," Torres says. "There's a lot of other salsa bands out there. What distinguishes us is that salsa, that sauce. That's what salsa means. You put together tomatoes, peppers, onions. Everybody makes their salsa a bit different. Ours is spicier. We like to add a little more jazzy edge to our music. It's definitely a bit different."
He and the members of his orchestra cater to the dancers in the audience.
"We want people to dance. We are a dance band. I don't play for other musicians-I play for dancers," he says. "I like seeing people having a great time. When I can hypnotize you and make you move, then I'm in control and that's my favorite part of the show."
Kinodance Company leader and visual artist Dedalus Wainwright says the idea for The Refractive Kinescope began with the notion of what it is like to sit in a movie theater and look over one's shoulder at the light as it comes out of the film projector, which he represents sculpturally in the MCLA Gallery 51 Annex installation.
"The idea is that you are in the interior of a film projector. I was thinking about the film and the light being the most important parts," Wainwright says. "Because it made sense to present the images to the audience horizontally, it required the light to move instead of the film."
He came up with the idea of using model trains to move the lights.
"This required much research because their physical limitations presented some challenges, but I developed an interesting interpretation of the piece," Wainwright says.
Choreographer/dancer Alissa Cardone spent much of the summer in the gallery, experimenting with the installation.
"It's sort of evolved from working with particular films in that particular space," Cardone says. "It's really about relationships. It's almost vaudevillian in how the dance relates to the images in the space."
The performance involves two characters.
"It's an interaction between a man and a woman. It eventually moves into a union and then the final sequence of images is the power of the female character in these movies and the incredible silent film actresses. They were a huge influence," Cardone says.
"It's very different from anything we've done before. It was a new process and it's all about the physicality," she continues. "It's all about the movement. It's very exaggerated because, in silent films, they don't have sound to communicate the words. They communicate the words and emotions through the movements of their bodies.
"It was really exciting to work with an installation space. The piece was really made for the installation. And the luxury of having the space there since June and through October has been great," Cardone says. "The proximity of the audience is great because it that really adds to the intimacy of the piece. You kind of can't keep your eyes off it."
Admission to Alex Torres and His Latin Orchestra is free, with no tickets required.
A limited number of tickets to Kinodance Company are available for $7, $5 for MCLA faculty and staff and non-MCLA students with valid id, and free for MCLA students and MCLA Presents! members.
For reservations call (413) 662-5204.
The Kinodance performances are part of DownStreet Art Thursday, an evening of gallery openings and special events around downtown North Adams.