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Destruction, Creation in ‘Cellar Door’


As a performer in the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance event Cellar Door, CU Denver alumna Tiffany Matheson contributed a wide variety of art in her performance piece “Sentence: Sentience,” which left viewers to interpret the meaning behind her piece’s symbolism with little guidance as to how.

The performance, held on April 16 at the Cleo Parker Dance Theatre, could be described as a portrayal comparing and contrasting chaos and balance, competition and collaboration, and creation and destruction.

photo courtesy Scottie Burgess

photo courtesy Scottie Burgess

The program for this performance said that Matheson has been exploring how shock can be used to convey messages. The exploration was somewhat evident during the performance. There were moments when Matheson and her co-performer, Kara Brown, destroyed papier-mache sculptures, which had pieces of fabric hidden within and ready to be woven together.

Drew Austin, a Denver native, also collaborated in the performance by creating original sound effects that fueled the show. Sound heavily contributed to the message of the performance by adding more alarming noises just as chaos was began. The musical morsels included chimes, ambient sound, sirens, drips, trickling, clock-ticks, and bird-chirps. The combination of the music and the routine communicated a sense of being alert and aware.

“I don’t really think I’m trying to portray any type of shock-value, but the shockingness between human interaction,” Matheson said. From a viewer’s standpoint, the shockingness she described was prevalent throughout the whole performance, and especially felt through sound.

In the middle of the act there was a surprising battle scene. Using curtain rods, Matheson and Brown destroyed sculptures and fought each other. When the pair leaned against one another in support, ambient music played soothingly. During an emotional moment, the audience listened as sounds changed to rapid winds and chimes foreshadowing the upcoming conflict. Essentially, the sound served as a form of communication with the audience.

Many parts of the performance were asymmetrical—the stage seemed to be split in half, mirroring similarities while simultaneously highlighting differences. The sculptures against the floor on each side were all different. The performers stood on opposite sides, and had different appearances. Seemingly, alumna Matheson is only in the beginning stages of creation. She informs, through the program for her act, that she has attained a biology degree from CU Denver. “I hope to use my degree to contribute towards herbal medicine in an alternative health clinic,” Matheson said.

Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Studio

119 Park Ave. W.

(303) 295-1759

Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Studio

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