Students push boundaries with bodies, art
Published: Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, June 22, 2011 23:06
One of the reasons why the annual Liquid Latex show is one of the most popular events in the Levin Ballroom is that students get to see their friends covered in extravagant body art and dancing around in nothing but thongs. Another reason is that it's simply one of the most creative things to happen on the Brandeis campus. Where else but college can people get naked and get painted as Hansel, the American flag or cybernetic androids?This year's coordinators Alex Hulse '12 and Shayna Medley '12 have continued the 11-year tradition of blending art, dance and modeling in an outstanding show titled "Art is Only Skin Deep."
I suppose art doesn't need to go any deeper than the skin if the painters and choreographers can create imaginative worlds like Charlotte Oswald's '12 recreation of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Students painted as fairies, donkeys and royalty acted out the disorienting plot of "Magic at Midsummer." Nati Peleg '13 garnered cheers when he brandished two glowing Poi orbs and spun colors in the dark, showing that skill and creativity were the main tests of the show.
I've only seen this once-in-a-lifetime experience from the audience, but something tells me that the true appeal of Liquid Latex lies in the creative process of recreating the model's exterior. All of the dancers and painters of Liquid Latex assembled at noon to begin the bodily transformations necessary for the show. Students spent the day in these new skins dancing, sweating, posing for photographs and socializing.
Each of the 10 dances and the fashion show featured a distinctive interpretation of the Liquid Latex performance. In April Kolb's '12 "Decadent Despair," the painted dancers splashed red paint while on stage. I could whiff the raw, plastic smell of it from the floor onto a girl's dress, representing her blood and sin. Ariel Bernstein '11 threw Snickers and 3 Musketeers bars into the crowd during designers Diana Flatto '12 and Allie Joseph '12 and choreographer Rachel Klein's '12 Hansel-and-Gretel-themed "Sweet Tooth." Designer George Falk '11 and choreographer Mei-Ling Caldera's '12 "Techno Genesis" included students dressed as gigantic fast food items with womanly legs who were later violently attacked by robots wielding Usdan Café utensils. Don't ask.
If the performances were to be judged on dance alone, then Alejandra Castellanos '12, Nicole Cordero '11 and Carly Greenberg's '11 "Global Exposure" certainly stole the show. Marc Eder '12 and Daniel Lee '12 struck confident poses as the United States of America and South Korea, respectively, while Hulse captivated the stage with Parkour-style athletics, jumping on and off the runway and into the audience. Claire Cooper '11, Elizabeth Watson '12 and Greenberg also stunned the crowd as they celebrated the piece's exuberant world music.
If Liquid Latex was purely a visual art show, then the stage design team behind "A Place Like No Place on Earth" would take the prize for its dazzling Alice in Wonderland-inspired creations. Jordan Warsoff's '11 Mad Hatter costume displayed devious blacks and purples that contrasted with the light blue and white of Shayna Medley's '12 Alice costume, while every other character sported effective patterns as well. I must give kudos to the painters for using such bright, noticeable colors. The props-two large playing cards and the iconic rose bush-completed the Wonderland picture.
Finally, I must comment on Rachel Gillette '11, Emily Nhaissi '11, Julia Korn '11 and Amy Stricoff's '11 "Lady Marmalade" dance. When the announcer first introduced Liquid Latex as a show "meant for mature audiences only," she meant it. The four girls' provocative energy struck the audience instantly as they twisted their bodies on top of chairs, couches and tables. Like the Wonderland piece, the props used here were elaborately designed-they even included a dresser complete with a mirror-and I'm impressed at how quickly the stage crew moved the set pieces between the acts.
Within 10 minutes of the show's end-around 9:40 p.m.-everyone had disposed of their sticky exoskeletons. "It feels like pulling duct tape from your body," remarked Travis Chui '12. "It's especially painful behind your arms and on the inside of your thighs." The students were no longer Harley Quinn, or a pirate, or Lady Gaga, or Gretel or a biomechanical hybrid wishing to eat food. They were now students again, normal people just like you and me, wearing merely human skin until the next year's Liquid Latex.