If we’re lucky enough to live into old age, our bodies will have moved in countless ways. They not only carry us through life but also store our memories. We relive experiences through our bones, muscles and minds. Time Track Productions explores the process of coming to terms with aging, particularly for women, in “Invisible,” which premiered Thursday night at the Southern Theater in Minneapolis.
Choreographer Paula Mann and multimedia artist Steve Paul are the duo behind Time Track. They unite movement with film and animation to create an immersive environment. With “Invisible” they also bring nature into the story, using a large mesh of branches for the hanging backdrop.
What becomes apparent over the course of the full-evening work is that the connections among the 11 women dancers (ages 25 to 75) are as intertwined as the set piece. The course of a human life is similar to that of any organic being — from birth to full bloom and eventually death — and we usually go through it with others at our side.
But “Invisible” doesn’t dwell on endpoints — it is very much about a journey. The performers sometimes split into two groups but more often they dance as a whole, a single organism that breathes, trembles, follows and even leaps together.
Mann appears alone, moving with a similar restlessness. Her separation from the larger crowd begs for some sort of reconciliation, but at the same time it makes sense. Not everyone travels through life surrounded by others. Sometimes the isolation is desired, sometimes it’s born of tragedy.
The aging process for women can be particularly unkind. Invisibility takes over from youthful beauty and energy. Wisdom is the reward for surviving a long life but it also gives us a clearer view of the dynamics of change. We receive the complex gift of hindsight.
And yet, we still look forward. As the dancers roil together in response to the eclectic sound score by Michelle Kinney and Chris Cunningham, they also occasionally stop and turn to the audience. With hands gripping their own behinds and a knowing smile over the shoulder, they acknowledge, briefly, our culture’s objectification of women. But just as quickly these strong women blow up that reality, dancing with vigor, messiness and strength. Their bodies contain history and truth. Those are the greatest gifts at any age.
Caroline Palmer is a Twin Cities dance critic.