The Art of Blackness
| ||Photo by Itai Zwecker|
| ||Shamel Pitts and Mirelle Martins|
Shamel Pitts' Black Velvet: Architectures and Archetypes at BAM Fisher
By QUINN BATSON
Black Velvet: Architectures and Archetypes is as much a beautiful work of art as it is a dance performance. Black Velvet is both lush and sparse at the same time visually, sonically and emotionally. It plays with extremes of darkness, sound and physicality but stays on the road.
Shamel Pitts is the credited creator of this study in black, and Mirelle Martins is his collaborator and, perhaps, muse. They are a well matched couple, with similar deep skin tone, muscularity and appearance. They could even be related, though siblings rarely match this well.
Martins stands near the front of the stage, fifteen feet tall and shirtless, gently rocking her cradled arms, with blackness behind her, as the audience filter in. She gradually expands her movement repertoire and begins to float around the stage, mysteriously, until Pitts emerges from under her rollable ladder.
|SHAMEL PITTS: BLACK VELVET|
|Choreography by: Shamel Pitts.|
Dancers: Shamel Pitts, Mirelle Martins.
Music by: Ed Cortes.
Sound design by: Ed Cortes.
Costumes by: David Gap, Naomi Maaravi.
Lighting design by: Lucca Del Carlo.
Production stage manager: Derek Van Hell.
|BAM Fisher Fishman Space|
May 9-12, 2019
Lighting effects by Lucca Del Carlo are the main actor in the first few minutes. Martin's "dress" pulses with highways of dashed-line light. A "pool" of water forms at the foot of the ladder. The humans onstage seem incidental for a while, until Pitt begins a solo of increasing intensity.
When Pitts and Martins do perform together, the first moments are clever and beautiful, breathing each other away in a sweet back-and-forth, until Pitts melts down and has to be pulled back from the edge. This rescue moment stands out; Martins thumps her head into Pitts' sternum, repeatedly, until he calms down. It is stark, simple and clear.
The texts, written and read by Pitts and Martins, are stark and simple, too, but seem more wordplay than meaning. They are interesting and evocative, though, like the lighting, partial nudity and movement. The movement at full tilt is vigorous, almost violent, and leaves the duo breathing heavily, entwined/entangled on the floor. Aggressive music and soundtrack by Ed Cortes feed energy into the space and back up the dancers.
| ||Photo by Itai Zwecker|
| ||Martins 15 feet tall|
As things wind down to quiet or silence, tenderness creeps into the air, until Pitts is behind Martins, with both rocking cradled arms in front of Martins, soothing their metaphysical baby.
|MAY 19, 2019|
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