Forces of Nature – The team behind ‘Ruckus’ returns for a free show at CAF

Back again so soon? Some readers may remember Anaya Cullen and Marko Pinter from September’s issue, when they caused a “Ruckus” over at Center Stage Theater, where they were one-third of that evening’s show of multimedia performance. For this Thursday’s forum Lounge at Contemporary Arts Forum, the two return with their still-unnamed company for “Gravitational Forces,” a longer, more ambitious piece.

Returning to mix sound, video and dance are Kaita Lepore and Steven Jasso, who Cullen considers as much a part of the company as the two creators. For “Dichotomous” and “Ruckus,” Cullen remained behind the scenes. But for “Gravitational Forces,” she returns to the stage as a performer. Santa Barbara audiences will know Cullen from her previous performance work for SonneBlauma Danscz Theatre, though currently she is the costume designer for State Street Ballet.

“It’s been interesting being in the piece instead of an outside eye,” she says. “It’s a new way to experience the technology, but it also changes the dynamic of the collaboration. It keeps the energy fresh.”

While “Dichotomous” was about male and female interaction, romance and conflict, “Gravitational Forces” complicates things and introduces something more like a narrative. Yes, there are some borrowings from “Dichotomous” for three of the eight sections, but even then, the context is different.

The 20-minute piece starts off with a solemn, butoh-style section, which leads into a fast-moving trio. The fabric loop from “Dichotomous” returns, a sensor-filled band that allows for elastic work between performers, while the sensors can alter sound and images. Three solos follow from each of the three dancers, as technology is slowly introduced, although some solos turn into duets.

Pinter uses video stills of famous Hollywood moments to illustrate the story between the two dancers. There’s also a solo from Cullen using silhouettes and infrared cameras. Pinter says the inspiration came from a moment during a sunset from a family vacation. “Gravitational Forces” then ends in its own kind of dusk.

“This has all been brewing for a while,” Pinter says.

Some of “Forces” comes from work between Lepore and Pinter from a year ago.

“What came out of ‘Ruckus’ were the choreographic moments that resonated with people,” Pinter says. “Everything else changed. The visuals changed. All three performers have participated in the choreography. I can watch the choreography and suggest how to modify it with the visualizations.”

“Certainly coming from a physical perspective, and not a technical background like Marko, it’s important that the technology be additive,” Cullen says. “The core has to have an integrity and be a strong piece. Then the technology adds to the meaning and development of the piece. It can’t be technology for the sake of technology. We’re not showcasing technology, we’re using it.”

With both Pinter and Cullen busy elsewhere — along with Jasso, the latter is busy at work on this coming month’s “Nutcracker” — the two say there is still a chance to go beyond Santa Barbara with this work.

“Somebody said to us the other day, ‘You’re a company,’ ” Pinter says. “And I thought, ‘oh yes, I guess we are.’ … There will be new work with this technology. The wheels are turning.”

When: 7 p.m. Thursday
Where: Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum, 653 Paseo Nuevo (upstairs)
Cost: Free
Information: (805) 966-5373,

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