Who are we when we’re alone? How do we tailor our personalities to fit into society? That tension between our authentic and our social selves is the subject of “Fit/Misfit,” a wacky and smart, if somewhat thin, collaboration between Tijuana’s Lux Boreal and the Iseli-Chiodi Dance Company from Tipperary, Ireland.
Alexandre Iseli and Jazmin Chiodi, the directors of Iseli-Chiodi, choreographed the roughly hour-long piece, presented at the White Box Theater at Dance Place on Saturday. Chiodi also performed, along with three men from Lux Boreal – Angel Arambula, Raul Navarro, and Humberto Vega. All four are riveting movers, whether in clownish bits that show off their individual styles or in breakneck segments when they fling themselves into a churning scrum.
Starting out in uniform black shirts and slacks, they warily stake out some part of the stage as personal turf or collide in a jostling pack. (Chiodi is a queen of wariness with darting, expressive eyes.) Chiodi and Navarro connect physically though not emotionally, standing chest-to-chest but twisting their necks to look away from each other, their arms extended zombie-like to avoid touching. In a flurry of playful movement patterns (which repeat), Arambula supports Chiodi from behind as she scurries crablike; and, sitting side by side, Arambula manipulates Navarro’s leg.
Gradually, the dancers individuate by putting on goofy costumes and through their presences onstage. Elfin Chiodi, in a red parka and sparkly red miniskirt, does a delicious off-kilter wobble. Arambula becomes a fist-raising apparatchik, though is his stony demeanor yet another pose, since he undercuts it with sinuous legs? Navarro’s costume is the most “look at me!” – turquoise and black checked tights – and he seems the most eager to connect, letting other dancers manipulate his body. Wild-haired Vega just quietly faces the audience, something so still in his expression that he’s like a human om.
The music, composed by Horsemen Pass By, matches the exploratory nature of the piece. Sometimes it has a Latin flavor, there’s some surf guitar, and at times it feels like it should be the soundtrack for one of the moodier Western films.
Described in the program as research, the cerebral “Fit/Misfit” seems a movement exploration rather than a fully developed piece, and it left me hungry for the emotional resonance of much of Lux Boreal’s work. Still, it’s a pleasure to watch these beautifully schooled movers and to see Lux Boreal, which has done several international collaborations, expand its presence on the world dance scene.