echoes from HOME
nytheatre.com review by Keelie A. Sheridan
August 14, 2011
Anyone who has ever dared to leave home and seek out a new or different life will connect with the themes of echoes from HOME, which seeks to reconcile the nostalgia and traditions of the mother country with the dreams that drive us to our destination and the struggles faced along the way. Choreographer Elissaveta Iordanova brings forth archetypes of women as viewed by Bulgarian culture in the first half of the piece. The second half examines the experience of migrating to a new country and facing internal and external resistance. The dancers are diverse and interesting to watch. There is a distinct focus on solo work in the first half of the piece—the second half is much more focused on the grouping of individuals.
This piece has a lot going on, and an audience member who doesn’t study the program thoroughly before the show begins runs a very real risk of becoming very, very lost. Several "characters" are introduced very quickly, and their identities are not immediately clear, and in some cases, indiscernible. The choreography straddles the worlds of abstract symbolism and tradition; the result is inconsistent and at times difficult to follow. These issues are more prevalent in the first half of the piece, though there are several expressive and intricate moments that make use of simple props (string, fabric) which were exceptionally interesting to watch. The second half contains several abstract yet coherent moments—most notably including a stretch depicting the frustrations of travel. The first and second acts are distinct enough to exist as independent pieces. Conceptually, one can make the jump between the two, but practically, this transition was not effectively realized—the end product felt rather disjointed.
Either severe technical issues or lax sound editing were initially very distracting. The production mixes evolving sounds and music (beginning with the abstract, moving into voices and finally song) with periods of silence, but the cuts to silence sound like someone pressing pause and play on a boombox or the sound system was losing and regaining power. If this was a choice, it did not translate, and the periods of silence did not seem specific or intentional. The choice of auditory accompaniment, including traditional chants and drumming, is appropriate, engaging and beautiful. Short bursts of pre-recorded narrative are a nice addition to the second act, both enhancing and clarifying the progression of the piece.