Tabula Rasa Dance Theater : Oedipus Rex
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Fate, murder, incest, truth, justice, power- these are just some of the themes of Sophocles’s 2500-year-old tragedy, Oedipus Rex, reimagined by Tabula Rasa Dance Theater as a dance piece and resituated in a present-day fictional nightspot called the Thebes Palace. As the COVID pandemic wreaks havoc on his business and his workers, Oedipus, proprietor of the club, frantically searches for vital financial information that could save them. But these missing records were the property of the club’s previous owner, Laios, now deceased. Though valiant, Oedipus’s quest for the truth leads only to the terrible fulfillment of an ancient curse. Using up-to-the-minute technology, including lasers and A.I., and an original EDM score, TRDT, a 4-year-old Manhattan-based company, presents its most ambitious program to date. Though complex, the story is expressed with clarity, a result of artistic director’s Felipe Escalante’s pristine, visceral choreography. Tabula Rasa Dance Theater has built its reputation on addressing social-justice issues, including domestic violence and conversion therapy. At the same time, the company has been lauded for its sensual, propulsive style, grounded in ballet, modern, and folkloric dance techniques and the close observations of everyday human gestures and animal locomotion. While activists have alleviated the stigma attached to victims of sexual assault, the traumas of incest survivors, by comparison, remain shrouded in silence and shame. Oedipus Rex confronts this disturbing fact, calling attention to the deleterious effects the taboo continues to have on individuals, society, and human evolution.