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Math, Sex, Fairy Tales, Humor, Death
Formulae & Fairy Tales casts the life of Alan Turing, mathematical genius and World War II codebreaker, into the Technicolor© and mythologized ideas of his favorite film, Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, placing the world of mathematics, artificial intelligence, and cryptography onto a vivid, twisted fairy-tale palette.
The Eli and Edythe Broad Stage in Santa Monica presents the world premiere of Invertigo Dance Theatre’s Formulae & Fairy Tales on September 13 & 14 at 7:30 pm.
Named as “one of the top six trendsetting companies to watch in Los Angeles” by Dance Spirit magazine, Invertigo Dance Theatre connects people to story and community through a blend of dynamic contemporary movement and compelling theatre. The company’s release-based technique draws on a hyper-kinetic high-impact vocabulary and floor-based movement.
Formulae & Fairy Tales was one of 20 nationwide works selected for a prestigious New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project production grant. Invertigo will continue to tour Formulae & Fairy Tales during the 2020-21 season, kicking off with a performance at the University of Florida Performing Arts’ Phillips Center on Wednesday, February 5, 2020.
Alan Turing, considered the father of artificial intelligence and the computer, was a computer scientist, mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, philosopher, and theoretical biologist. Turing ultimately contributed to the design of a code-breaking machine known as the Bombe, which supplied the Allies with large quantities of military intelligence. He also devised the first systematic method for breaking messages encrypted by Germany’s sophisticated cipher machine.
“This show is many things. It is a whimsical leap into a vivid imagination. It is a love letter to a great mind. It is a playground and a memory and a machine. It is a rejection of tragedy in favor of hope, redemption, and an implacable desire that our world be better for the people living in it,” says Laura Karlin, Invertigo Dance Theatre’s Founding Artistic Director.
It was during WWII, while Turing and his fellow British cipher service members secretly worked at Bletchley Park, the Victorian Tudor-Gothic estate near London, that he first saw Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first animated feature to be produced in English and in Technicolor©. It made quite an impression. According to an article in the New Yorker, “Those who knew him said that he was particularly fond of chanting the witch’s couplet, ‘Dip the apple in the brew / Let the sleeping death seep through.’”
Turing was known for his eccentric wit, engaging sense of humor, and as an affable man to his friends. While his accomplishments helped end World War II, he lived in a time when his sexual orientation wielded chilling consequences. After the war, in March 1952, he was convicted of “gross indecency” by the very country he helped save, and in 1954, he died by eating an apple laced with cyanide, an act eerily foreshadowed by Snow White. He was officially pardoned in 2009 by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and the Alan Turing Law is now an informal term for a 2017 law in the United Kingdom that retroactively pardoned men cautioned or convicted under historical legislation that outlawed homosexual acts. In 2016 The Imitation Game was released, an Academy Award-winning film based on Turing’s life. Just this month, the Bank of England announced that Turing would be the new face of the £50 note.
“Alan Turing was wildly creative within a strict mathematical world,” adds Karlin. “The drive of his work was to reveal hidden meaning, to decode things, to take something that doesn’t make sense and filter it through until it does. It is a process I relate to as a choreographer,” explains Karlin.
The choreography in Formulae & Fairy Tales often draws on spirals, prolific trust-based partnering, an interplay between containment and liberation, as well as sustained off-kilter transit that eventually returns to balance or stillness. At times, the movement is a literal play on binary vs. nuance, ones and zeros. Joints themselves express computational systems: clear and quick choices encoded with a “yes/no,” “this way/that way,” while the muscles convey the much more sensual possibilities.
At other moments, the dancing transfers from compression to vivid expansion. The artists catapult through the shimmering surface of fairy-tale archetypes, entering into lifts and partnering in such inventive ways that each encounter bleeds with sensuality and rawness.
Karlin develops the choreography in collaboration with the dancers: Cody Brunelle-Potter, Hyosun Choi, Jessica Dunn, Spencer Jensen, Corina Kinnear, Dominique McDougal, and Luke Dakota Zender. Composers Toby Karlin, Julia Kent, and Eric Mason’s music are also featured in the piece.
“I grew up knowing who Alan Turing was. I started thinking about him as source material for an interesting exploration of ideas when I heard Janna Levin speak on NPR in connection to her book about Alan Turing, titled A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines,” explains Laura Karlin. “She was talking about Turing’s story framed in a way that wasn’t purely historical and biographical, it was lyrically poetic. There was an immediate overwhelming set of factors, that-twelve years later--I continue to find so compelling: the cold and harsh and sharply defined areas of mathematics the idyllic and equally ingrained and sharply defined world of fairy tales, and this more nuanced raw humanity,” Karlin adds.
Formulae & Fairy Tales is made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts' National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Presenter / Producer: Invertigo
Theater > Musicals
Dance > Contemporary Dance
Event Phone: 310-434-3200
The Eli & Edythe Broad Stage
1310 11th Street
Los Angeles CA 90401
LA - Hollywood / Westside
Performance Dates: 9/13/2019 - 9/14/2019
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