Art and environment linked at Junknation
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Art and environment linked at Junknation
by Rajkhet Dirzhud-Rashid - SGN A&E Writer

Northwest Dance Syndrome's Junknation
April 26
Erickson Theatre Off Broadway


To me, the highlight of last weekend's meaty dance performance (besides the in-your-face environmental message) was the portion featuring dancers in costumes made of plastic and paper bags. I'd call that recycling with an eye toward artistic expression! It makes you think how art and the environment are inextricably linked, and how art can present this message in an appealing way and make those who still aren't listening listen.

The recycled costumes were part of the signature piece of the evening, Junknation, presented by Northwest Dance Syndrome, and featured a plethora of "trash items," including some discarded gas tanks that were used as gongs. Old McDonald's bags were used by a dancer who was seated uncomfortably in an egg-shaped prop made of rusty wire, which was meant to simulate the often small and untidy residences where people accumulate a huge volume of trash.

At times haunting and often reminiscent of futuristic sci-fi films in which inhabitants are barely surviving in a stark and raped environmental nightmare, Junknation progressed from robotic dances to more inventive movements that made me think of how helpless and overwhelmed the planet must feel.

The dancers simulated the average consumer, who grabs and gobbles more and more and discards things no longer useful, so the cycle of consumption continues and our ravaged planet is kept in pain.

NWDS's second performance of the evening, Rat Race, worked with similar themes, but this time used a large screen where visceral black and white art was projected and dancers were woven into that scenario via lighting. This piece started simple and ended in a complex series of groupings by the dancers that illustrated the hectic and often destructive pace of the corporate world. More violent in some parts, this piece was, I think, meant to wake up those who might have been lulled into a kind of complacent acceptance by the first piece. Definitely a group I'll be watching, Northwest Dance Syndrome puts on a show worth making time for and even deals with difficult subjects, making the whole thing enjoyable and beautiful to witness.