USF alumni return with spectacular dance

In a special three-day engagement coming to USF, a choreographer will turn on a projector in front of his dancers. While he intends to use it for a presentation, it’s not a lecture. 

He is attempting to create a medium that will allow his dancers to perform in a way they haven’t before.

NobleMotion Dance is a Houston- based non-profit performing arts organization co-directed by Andy and Dionne Noble, former dance majors and USF alumni. 

The duo returns to campus Jan. 17-19 to perform their latest dance creation titled “Spitting Ether,” an elaborate technical production using projectors, live camera feeds, movable screens, lasers, glass chambers, and fog to create new scenes and moods.

The Nobles said the goal of this performance is to bring everyone together regardless of “technological differences.”

“I think one of the challenges is, depending on what generation you’re in, everyone is plugged in these days,” Andy said.  “Everyone needs something and wants to know what is the most up-to-date thing.”

The challenge, Andy said, for NobleMotion isn’t the ability to bring together various generations into one presentation of dance, but making sure the technology is effective.

“I’m still very nervous about the technology end of it because there’s a lot of things we can’t control,” Andy said.  “A lot of it for me is not so much who to use the technology, that’s really fun.  It’s how we use it the way we want it to work during a performance.”

In addition to accounting for failure of technology, Andy said the fog is also a challenge NobleMotion has faced and had to learn how to control. Some dance theaters’ fire alarm system couldn’t handle the fog, while others had an air handler that led the fog away from the desired space on stage.

For at least two sections of “Spitting Ether,” Andy uses a wall of light he created by engulfing the room with fog. As the dancers gracefully interact with the wall, wisps of fog twirl among the different shades of color being displayed.

“The magic that you are going to see is that we found ways to create walls of light that the dancers can interact with,” Andy said.  “They look real, they look physical, but they can look through them.”

As the sections progress, so do the different shapes emitted by the projector.  This creates different areas of space that dancers use to manipulate the visual area that almost resembles an entirely new stage.

Every motion of the dancer’s silhouette artistically cuts and maneuvers light, skillfully displaying every gesture they make.  

The light highlights their movement, Andy said, as each dancer brings out a physical presence of the objects created by lights and fog.

“The first time we saw it was the wall section,” dancer Shelly Bourgeois said.  “We saw it backstage on a TV and our jaws just dropped.  We were all excited.”

As the dancers practiced blocking in a studio, they felt as if they had to learn how to dance all over again with technology that created new spaces that altered their movement quality.

“It’s a challenge dancing it,” Bourgeois said.  “But just even watching it on video over and over was nothing like I’ve seen before.”

“Spitting Ether” will be shown Jan. 17 and 18 at 8 p.m., and Jan. 19 at 2 p.m. in Theatre II.  The cost of general admission is $16, $12 for seniors and students.  Advanced tickets are available through Ticketmaster.