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Science Meets Art

Capacitor tries to interpret science through dance, music, light and fire.

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During its creative process, Capacitor brings ideas and people together in rich and unexpected combinations using the framework of the Capacitor Lab, which Artistic Director Jodi Lomask calls “a continually morphing group of scientists, architects, artists, thinkers, dancers, and writers.”

“The first Capacitor Lab began,” Lomask says, “when I called up Sidewalk Astronomers [a San Francisco nonprofit that brings telescopes into the street to teach passersby about outer space], to ask some questions I had concerning a new project I was interested in developing. … a show about outer space. Jonathon Wilkendorf, a local astronomer, answered the call and spent over an hour with me on the phone discussing current astronomical thought and … Earth’s place in the universe.”

From there, the Lab expanded to include astronomers, composers, videographers and many other creative thinkers in a collaborative effort that led to the creation of the group’s current show. Lomask describes it as a “portrayal of life on Earth from our planet’s birth to the evolution of the human form.” The piece combines sound, video, fire and light with the work of movement artists such as dancers, circus performers and martial arts masters.

What prompted Lomask to tackle the impossibly big idea of outer space? “I want to bring the audience back to a space of wonderment, a place most of us left in childhood, when we actually pondered the ultimate questions. When we considered where the Earth came from and what is beyond outer space,” she explains.

“After many hours developing a concept, we decided to merge science and performance to conceptualize Earth’s duet with the universe” says composer Thomas Day. “A vague concept with enormous possibilities.”

Such big thinking seems to have paid off. Astronomer Aaron Bernstein describes the performance as “bringing the beauty, texture and emotion of the interactions of our cosmos … to the warm immediacy of human movement and the stage.”

By using the Capacitor Lab as the seed of its creative process, Capacitor is able to find common ground between individuals from many different disciplines, and to reveal the links — always present, though not always visible — between the arts and sciences. S

Capacitor performs “Within Outer Spaces” Feb. 5 and 7 at 7:30 p.m. in the Alice Jepson Theatre at the University of Richmond. Tickets cost $14-$28, call 289-8980.

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