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Why Patterns

Ping-pong balls and dance in the U.S. debut of a visually arresting performance

by Roman Espejo in Culture on 26 July 2011

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On a black stage a singular ping-pong ball triggers four dancers, followed by thousands more balls dropping, rolling and flooding the scene in controlled chaos. This is "Why Patterns." Making its U.S. debut next week, the performance piece is a collaboration between choreographer Jonah Bokaer and Snarkitecture, a creative studio founded by artist Daniel Arsham and architect Alex Mustonen.

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First commissioned by Dance Works Rotterdam, the show draws inspiration from the musical composition by Morton Feldman of the same name. The creative partnership formed after Arsham met Bokaer while stage designing for the late choreographer Merce Cunningham. "We had many interests in common," says Arsham. "In the case of 'Why Patterns,' I proposed the possibility of what we could do with one ball, and with 5,000 balls." Costumes were redesigned by menswear's Richard Chai.

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With Arsham's years of experience in stage design, the performance is a logical transition for Snarkitecture's practice, but with the challenge of creating a lightweight set portable enough for touring. "Working within this, we created something that had a strong visual impact and some very unexpected moments that respond to the movement of the dancers," says Mustonen.

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"Why Patterns" runs from 3-7 August 2011 at the Jacob Pillow Dance Festival in Becket, Massachusetts. Tickets are $23.50-$37.50, with special pricing on Friday. Visit Jacob Pillow Dance online to purchase and for more information.

Photos by Snarkitecture

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