Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Wind, Breath, Spirit

By Steven Robert Allen

DECEMBER 7, 1998:  Pneuma, a dance-video concert performed Dec. 3 through 5 at Theatre X, uses two complementary media to construct a submersible vessel for descending into the deepest, watery trenches of memory, fear, identity, dreams and relationships. Flat, edited, mechanistic video merges with lush, three-dimensional human bodies in a haunting, sweaty coupling that is sure to steam your spectacles and get your aged, lumbering heart pumping wildly again.

The concert, which appears as part of the UNM Department of Theatre and Dance's "Over the Edge" series, is the precocious brainchild of Jennifer Predock-Linnell, a dance professer at UNM. Working with videographer Rogulia Wolfe and lighting designer John Malolepsy, Predock-Linnell has created an integrated three-piece performance set for your seething, audio-visual pleasure.

For more than 30 years now, Predock-Linnell has been a major innovator in choreography and dance in the Southwest. She founded the Here and Now Dance Group, which toured extensively throughout New Mexico in the mid-1960s. Since 1967, she has choreographed more than 35 works that have been produced regionally, nationally and internationally. She has also recorded the oral histories of numerous choreographers and dancers. These oral histories ultimately served as the foundation for her Ph.D. disertation.

As an artist, Predock-Linnell has always been fascinated with the rickety, mysterious machinery of memory. For her, the merging of dance and video has become an ideal way to explore how memories contained in the internal receptacles of our hearts may be communicated through the movement of our physical bodies.

Pneuma consists of three pieces that focus on this theme. The first two pieces, "Forget Me, Forget Me Not" and "Inner Spaces of Drifting," were previously staged as part of a project on which Predock-Linnell worked over the past three years. Melding choreography, video, light and sound design, the project examined how we superimpose each new story in our lives on top of other stories that came before and how our memories transmogrify over time due to accumulated experience and newly-learned ways of perceiving.

The final piece, "unquiet," is brand spanking new. "Unquiet" explores women's relationships with each other and with themselves. It expresses the inner turbulence caused by secrets, lies and unspoken truths and how these conflict with the strict order people attempt to impose on their external lives.

The word pneuma, as it turns out, doesn't have anything to do with life-threatening illness. On the contrary, it means wind, breath, spirit. According to Predock-Linnell, this is the principle that animates the concert, which binds the three pieces together. Such an amorphous description, of course, leaves lots of room for the unexpected. For that reason alone, I expect to see you--that's right, you, finicky aesthete--planted firmly in the front row come opening night.

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