We just wrapped up our debut of Critical State at the River Arts building in Morrisville VT. Here is a quick promo we made with some of the footage.

Critical State from Polly Motley on Vimeo.

Mark Your Calendar

A Multimedia Performance Installation

SEPTEMBER 2 -3, 2010
Performance Ongoing 5:30-8:30pm

River Arts Center
74 Pleasant St.
Morrisville, VT 05661

Call for tickets: 802.888.1261


In chemistry and condensed-matter physics, a critical point, also called a critical state, specifies the conditions at which a phase boundary ceases to exist, for example when a vapor changes to liquid.
In Critical State, each combination of dancers (solos, trios, etc) and each module of sound, video, lighting, and set is a distinct phase: a theatrical vignette, a dance sequence, a video projection, a sonic event. The phases, at critical points, are transformed by one another into something else, another phase, investigating the critical state.
Motley's works for out-of-theatre spaces are relative to the architecture and art of the specific site. The performance, art, and architecture are mutually enhanced because they coexist. Careful juxtapositions of color, texture, speed, volume, scale, content, and timing assure not just compatibility and coherence, but beautiful marriages. Critical State will be anchored in the environment of the historic River Arts building in Morrisville, Vermont. This beautiful building is an integral part of the Morrisville community, having previously been a Grange Hall and the Peoples Academy School.
While Motley is artistic director, and as choreographer the lead artist, she is also in some sense the curator of a group show. She will provide a vision and the context within which individuals will develop their own work. Each artist will regularly have creative consultations with Motley in addition to rehearsals for ensemble pieces in which all participate.

Artist Statements Concerning Critical State

Sam Haar As a sound artist I am constantly fascinated by the relationship that sound forms with its surroundings. I am inspired by the musical and emotional content of all sounds, the interaction of the phenomena of sound in physical space, and the possibility of ecstatic states. In relationship to dance sound can exist as accompaniment, as an extension of the dancer's physicality, such as in voice amplification or modification, or as an extension of the physical space as vibrations in the air. Critical State will explore these different relationship states within the spatial dimension. Sound will be installed throughout the two-story River Arts building creating an intelligent network of sonic and musical experiences. The soundscape will consist of a mix of pre-composed accompaniment to specific dances; architectural enhancements; live performances; and extensions of the dancers' movement. New forms will emerge throughout the system as the dancers, video, lighting, and sets transition, move from room to room, react, and juxtapose, I'm interested in engaging the audience in the exploration of sound and musical gesture through space in relation to the images and movement. The performance will be a mutating 4-dimensional sculpture (of space and time) that one can wander through at any pace, creating a multitude of unique experiences. I have successful experience working with sound for dance, performance, and installation. Critical State represents a shift in scope and process; it is a chance to fuse previously separate interests into a new collaborative environment and advance my work by evolving my previous explorations into new territory. 
Molly Davies I am interested in working on a video installation for Critical State because of the different parameters and choices this new piece offers. Since the 1970's I have experimented with multiple projections and dancers on a stage. This work had to be in a theater with a seated audience who watched a piece with a beginning, middle, and end: a piece in which the sequence of images and the relationship to the dancers was always the same. In contrast, Critical State will always be shown in a flexible situation. The audience chooses when and where to watch which dancers, and which video monitors. As there will be a live mix to the monitors, the images will vary with each performance. And, how long someone chooses to watch, and in what order is unpredictable. Critical State can only be viewed as an accumulation of events experienced through time, the understanding or meaning of the whole coalescing in the mind of the viewer. One sees individual trees while walking through the area and intuits the forest. I worked on one other piece with Polly Motley, AUTOPSY, which could not be experienced in one room. This work also had a performer with live video, monitors, and live music and video mixes. It was a very effective piece. I am particularly interested to see this form extended through many spaces with six performers. In this case, I imagine the monitors to work as a thread through the building linking the performers from room to room, something to hold onto, anticipate, or refer back to.
Polly Motley I am curious about concentrated states of being - what they look like, how they evolve, how they influence others, the time, and the space around them. Dancing this is not usually spectacular. Nevertheless, I want to engage an audience with such concentration and transformation. One strategy is to have the audience close for extended periods of time to magnify details of movement and experience. The work I am currently making, Critical State, will be performed in several rooms using sound and video to connect the performers and audience in the spaces. Monitors and microphones will communicate timing and intent to the audience and help to simultaneously emphasize details and overview. There will be an interplay of set material and scored improvisation for the dancers as well as the sound and video artists. Video, sound and lighting will create an enveloping milieu with a live mix that the audience may watch. In this work we will all be alert to the inter-changing states of the dancers, media and milieu. As a soloist, I have successfully navigated site-specific, time-based inter-media work. Critical State marks for me a new relationship to ensemble with all its challenging multiplicity. As Jeanette Winterson wrote, " is always about relationship--to the material, to the self, and to the world in all its chaos and intrusion, its terror and its glory." (New York Times 12/20/09) Along with the complexity of this work, I maintain an aesthetic of simplicity: I value a direct, intimate relationship with an audience; I am inspired by the elegance of a single gesture; and I seek dancing that reveals an inner life.