Do You Know 3rd Law Dance/Theater? If Not, You Should.

June 9 2014, 1:25 PM

3rd Law Dance/Theater in "Obstinate Pearl" (photo courtesy of Heather Gray Photography)

Dance, perhaps more than most other performing arts genres, is open to audience interpretation. There's no one telling you the plot or explaining the choreographer’s choice of movements. Often, the audience has only the name of the production upon which to base any assumptions. This freedom—for both the performer and the viewer—is the beauty of the medium.

Boulder's 3rd Law Dance/Theater (named after Newton's Third Law of Motion—"for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction") expresses that sense of freedom and wonder in a contemporary repertoire that has seemingly limitless scope. The group's March production, The Obstinate Pearl, had Boulder Bach Festival music director and electric violinist Zachary Carretti playing live on stage, as he and the dancers moved around each other. A piece called "Boxes" featured four beams of light (creating four boxes on the stage where the dancers were most visible), and the troupe danced within them and away from them as surrounding screens showcased their movement, a commentary on reality versus reproduction. A fun work named after the song C'est Moi is a lighthearted romp that reminds the audience of the beauty of dance and expression. (I smiled through the entire thing.) And an in-the-works piece (working title: "Wanderer") explores the difficulties veterans face when they return home. Almost every production includes visual or digital technology to amplify the experience.

"A lot of what we do is generated by the news or has social meaning for the community," says Jim LaVita, co-artistic director of the company with his wife Katie Elliott. "It's an artistic collaboration."

That collaboration extends further than just husband and wife. During rehearsals, the dancers—there's a core group of seven, only one of whom is a male—give input and offer suggestions as new works come together and old works are updated. It helps that the dancers, all classically trained, have all been a part of 3rd Law for several years and are more than willing to follow LaVita and Elliott's often-quirky conceptual process. "They trust us," LaVita says.

See the result of that collaborating this week with the one-night-only production of Roof, a series of vignettes celebrating the 10-plus years the troupe has been performing with "a roof over their heads" at the Dairy Center for the Arts. The show hits the stage on Saturday, June 14 at 7 p.m.; tickets are $25.

Even more dance: If you're interested in more experimental forms of dance, check out (the world we've created) by Control Group Productions and Kim Olson/Sweet Edge at the Denver Center's Studio Loft June 13–15. "It's an interactive and immersive environment of live/physical/digital installations," said CGP artistic director Patrick Mueller in the press release. "This event bridges the art gallery and the stage in a truly extraordinary way." Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door.

Follow associate editor Daliah Singer on Twitter at @daliahsinger