Sometimes big ideas come in small packages.
Such was the case with fireWALL’s latest dance offering, Admission, at the postage stamp-sized off the WALL Theater in Carnegie.
It was the fourth piece choreographed by 23-year old Point Park University graduate Elisa-Marie Alaio and her works have created a steep learning curve over the course of her first season. Admission was the apex of that growth.
Right now, whether by design or necessity, Admission was the second all-female work.
It was driven by a corporate glass ceiling concept — very smart. Instead of glass, though, there was a crosshatch of bungee cords attached at the midpoint of the tiny off the WALL theater and also at the foot of the audience risers.
Eight women started at the back, cast in silhouette behind panels. They were seated on stools, moving from one pose to another. Some were bunheads, but these were no ballerinas.
Hands shook. Anxiety? Maybe, but then there was a “power” fist. Something else was afoot.
When the women finally emerged — the section went on for a while — we got the answer to the cables.
Made of the thick kind used to jump off bridges, they produced their own soundscape in addition to Ryan McMasters’ equally tensile accompaniment, full of voices whispering, an underlying beat, water and opera.
It was the stress of the workplace. The release. The manipulation. The constraints of society. And it all became faster, more frustrating, even dangerous in this most compelling of the sections.
The dancers began to unhook the cables. Success, perhaps?
They took off their corporate-driven black jackets to reveal loose-fitting white blouses. Then the dance became more prop-driven — I’m not sure why — with the use of six white chairs.
It turned out that the choreography doled out a sense of equal opportunity among the women. But would there be a winner at the end?
There were group-supported lifts. They linked arms. They huddled like a corporate sisterhood. But the finale turned out to be a jazz group number, more entertainment than substance. So there was no apparent winner, except Alaio and her dancers, who could take pride in their growth.