As the dance duo Hijack began "Jealousy," all that was visible was a hint of obfuscated moving shapes.
Performing at Hair + Nails Gallery, Arwen Wilder and Kristin Van Loon started the piece inside a large pen made of translucent, but not transparent, plastic. The audience walked around the cube on slim, dirt aisles, trying to see what was happening in the box.
Wilder and Van Loon created the piece along with their respective life partners — lighting designer Heidi Eckwall and visual artist Ryan Fontaine, the latter of whom runs the gallery with Van Loon. The cheeky title played on the notion of romantic jealousy, but the work really grappled with the traditional hierarchy between moving bodies and design in performance. By having the set hide the performers completely, the piece commented on how often design elements are created in support of choreography, rather than the other way around.
By the time the plastic walls were torn down halfway through the show, the ability to see the live performance unencumbered was an exhilarating relief.
Wilder and Van Loon have been dancing as Hijack for 26 years, and the trust and intuition those decades have built up showed.
They subtly checked in with each other as they shifted weight, created acrobatic lifts and shapes, and moved almost as if one being. There was an immense intimacy in the way they created movement, and perhaps that's where the jealousy came into play. Artistic collaborations mirror the connection, history and intensity of other deep relationships.
The work also explored notions of surveillance, and dichotomies of light and dark, nature and human-made materials, and clarity and opacity.
Besides the main performance area, the audience could view both live and taped footage on a small monitor in a dimly lit backroom as well as in a greenery- and sculpture-filled basement.
The video component, at work in the first half the show, questioned how hierarchies often come into play as we experience performance and also the world around us.
Is live performance more true than a video? Are plants more real than plastic?
At the face of things, yes, but by juxtaposing these opposing forces, the piece asked what we value, what is important and to what we should pay attention to.
"Jealousy" ran Friday to Sunday.
Sheila Regan is a Minneapolis critic and arts journalist.