Living Under the Influence choreographer Pamela Trokanski set herself one tough task in creating the program for her Dance Theatre troupe’s spring concert: To illustrate through dance the ways external influences—obvious or unacknowledged— shape one’s actions and individuality.
Trokanski asks: “Who are we as individuals, when we aren’t being influenced by everything from lack of sleep to hormones to performance enhancers to television and social media? Also importantly, what influences us, not only as individuals but as a nation?”
Dances are accompanied by Trokanski’s narrative or by individual dancers’ “stories,” while some are set to particular musical numbers such as “Scars to Your Beautiful” by Alessia Cara. It is the choreographer’s regular practice to place her works against a combination of (often witty, provocative) spoken word and music.
Two segments stand out. In one, the troupe’s youngest and oldest dancers—9-year-old Asher Habicht, and 87-year-old Allegra Silberstein—dance a duet that mirrors their similarities of movement while making their physical differences obvious. In the other, the power of unknown influences is illustrated: Six dancers are paired into three couples, one dancer behind the other, directing the actions of the front dancer-through gestures and hand signals, very much imitating a puppet-master.