Dancer and choreographer Koryn Wicks explores the medium of horror film through modern dance in To Die in the Valley I’ve Loved, moving through an abandoned, decayed space festooned with torn builders’ plastic as a moody ambient score (composed and performed by Alex Lough) drifts under like moonlit mist. Voices calmly discuss horror movies: listing things that are creepy, talking about why people love them, some of the social implications of the genre. Wicks, dressed in 90’s kid plaids and boots, responds with a combination of choreographed and improvised dance, sometimes portraying a monster, sometimes a victim, or a “final girl.”
In between dramatic and interesting moments, Wicks’s movements sometimes devolve into jazz dance class for bored housewives, feeling like she’s vamping until her next textual cue. But the overall effect is strong, and while I am not sure how much of a “statement” is ultimately made, it’s enjoyable to watch for those moments when the lighting changes, and Wicks responds with movement, posture and emotion in response as the camera voyeuristically watches through torn plastic. Sometimes she seems to be dancing a duet with her shadow, and it is overall quite effective.
According to the notes, this was conceived as a live performance, and the text cues are randomized, and in these times of isolation, just the thought of a live show is appealing as hell.
The lighting is simple, from a red flat color to a shadowed cutout in green to a pink wash, generally the sort of thing you’d find on a stage production. The score is well-conceived, evoking (at least to me) some of Akira Yamaoka’s gentler, almost disappearing undermusic from quieter moments of Silent Hill.
If I had any real wish for this piece, it would be to cut it tighter and really focus on those excellent, dramatic moments. And because I’m me, some stage blood, but that’s just nit-picking.
To Die in the Valley I’ve Loved is currently playing at Slamdance 2021.
7.5 out of 10 Flannel Shirts Tied Around the Waist
|To Die in the Valley I’ve Loved
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