For those in need of a respite from relentless political drama, the upcoming holiday rush or simply the rigors of life, Janice Garrett and Charles Moulton are serving up an exuberant slice of wonder titled “Angles of Enchantment,” opening Saturday at ODC Theater.
Garrett and Moulton first met in New York when, after leaving their respective performing careers — she with Dan Wagoner and he with Merce Cunningham — they founded the dance company that carries their names.
For Garrett, who swapped a career track in mathematics for dance, it was Moulton’s playfully quirky piece “Precision Ball Passing” that first attracted her to his work.
Like a kind of human Rubik’s Cube, the piece involved rows of volunteers rhythmically passing bright yellow balls back and forth. Moulton described it as “a living puzzle that can only be solved by everyone working together.”
His approach to choreography resonated with Garrett.
“Charlie and I have similar perception in terms of pattern, energy and space,” she says.
Collaborating since 2007, their work has already earned critical acclaim for its originality, visual charm and high-spirited energy, while never losing its very human core.
“Every big piece begins with a challenge you have no idea how to solve,” Moulton says.
The challenge in Garrett and Moulton Productions’ “Angles” — an evening-length piece — was to locate the elusive point where magic occurs.
“There’s a kind of oppressive malaise that can take over, just from the pace and the challenges of daily life,” Garrett says. “But both Charlie and I have very hopeful, exuberant spirits. We wanted to encourage that energy and manifest a sense of wonder — those fleeting moments when you may be engaged in mundane actions but yet find moments of inspiration. They give encouragement and hope.”
For Moulton, that includes coming to terms with life’s irrationality: “Here we are: We don’t have control. So enchantment involves what’s right beyond understanding. And, it’s important to human beings in any number of practical ways.”
Designer Margaret Hatcher’s colorful, sculptural costumes add to the piece’s visual vitality.
“Her costumes are very elaborate,” Garrett says, “and off the scale in their representation of an emotional palette.”
More so than in their prior works, the lighting plays a great role here.
“Because enchantment is about mood, it’s complex and often indirect,” Moulton adds. “A lot of what we’re doing has to do with ambiance.”
Composer Peter Whitehead performs on handmade instruments constructed from found objects and provides the narrative thread as a singer-storyteller.