February 6, 2012

Let There Be Light

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In the 1890s, Auguste and Louis Lumière turned on a new switch, illuminating the human capacity for reaction in a way only truly novel ideas can. As pioneers of the French cinema, the Lumière brothers created some of the earliest films that introduced the world to cinema. The films of the Lumière brothers, although only a few minutes long  each, brought to life the quotidian bustle of the layman’s existence, immortalizing the movement and progress of man.

Since 2010 choreographer Catherine Galasso ’06, an alumni of Cornell’s Department of  Theatre, Film and Dance, has sought to reintroduce the feelings that come with encountering newness in such a routine-heavy society.  In her latest piece, Bring on the Lumière,  she tops novelty with innovation as she retells the story of the Lumière brothers.

Galasso threads together the story of the French masterminds of modern cinema with a tangible, physical poetry.  Her piece intertwines dance, theater and light (and aptly so, as “Lumière” literally translates into “light” in French). By bringing together such eclectic performances, Galasso hopes to attract a diverse audience. Her aim is to expose people to art forms they are unfamiliar with.

Galasso brings a host of talent to the project. Lighting designer and installation artist Elaine Buckholtz is collaborating with Catherine Galasso on the performance. Bring on the Lumière also features music by Galasso’s late father, the renowned composer Michael Galasso, who collaborated with several leading avant-garde artists including Robert Wilson and film director Wong Kar Wai. These artists have indelibly shaped Catherine Galasso’s work.

The protagonists in Galasso’s non-fiction piece are two international female dance artists, Christine Bonansea and Marina Fukushima, who portray the Lumière brothers. Her poetic interpretation attempts to acquaint the audience with the history of the Lumière brothers and their groundbreaking discovery. Throughout Galasso and Buckholtz’s piece, the Lumière brothers find themselves trapped in their own cinematic pieces, allowing the audience to experience what effect the first films must have had on the unsuspecting, early cinema goers.  Galasso’s fresh perspective provokes thought about film and showcases the potential of the visual arts to amaze and inspire audiences. Bring on the Lumière certainly presents an opportunity to view reality through infinite lenses, and to stretch tensile minds to entertain and retain new ideas.

Galasso’s piece is illuminating in its ability to incorporate revolutionary forms of art, including cinema, but also dance, theatre, and poetry, to tell a story by showing it. It is an extraordinary opportunity to brush up on culture references and support a Cornellian who has carried her excellence through San Francisco’s ODC Theatre, New York’s Joyce  SoHo and back to the Hill.

Bring on the Lumière will play at the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts this Friday, Feb 10 at 7:30 pm.  Tickets may be purchased online as well as at the Schwartz center.  As part of a campus-wide festival of the Lumière brothers’ films will also be featured at the Johnson Museum, which will be projecting their shorts on the exterior of the museum from sunset to 11p.m.until Feb 20.

Original Author: Sam Martinez