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Loving Liquid Latex: unique show turns flesh into canvas

By Candice Bautista

Section: Arts

March 30, 2012

Last Tuesday night, the annual Liquid Latex performance reminded us of why we should be proud to be Brandeisians. It was personally my first time watching Liquid Latex (my first-year self decided that it would be much better to watch the Brandeis-Wellesley Orchestra last year than to see almost-nude dancers), but now I understand why this is a thing.

Because the dancers aren’t allowed to sit in fear of their latex ripping either before their set or before the finale, Levin Ballroom was filled with constantly standing latex-adorned individuals. Whether it was before the show with the models were milling about in the crowd or during the performance itself, everywhere you looked there was someone covered in latex, usually making awkward movements with their bodies to test out their new skin. It was a bizarre experience even before the show to see faces I knew around campus … along with other parts of their body.

Although I am no longer my first-year self, it was difficult not to blush, giggle and avert my eyes at every other glance. This was made even stranger when one of the latex creatures would approach me; the amount of latex kept me from recognizing some of my friends who were performing. Throughout the night, however, I realized it really didn’t matter. The people who performed were not there to be themselves—they were there for other reasons. Some were there to put on a show, some were there to be a small part in their larger goal as a group and some were there just to make the audience laugh.
The first performance, “If You See Something, Say Something” was a great start to the show. The performance began with Joseph Babeu ’15 and Jordana Yahr ’14 who played the part of a quarreling couple on a New York City subway. As they continued fighting, a man in a trench coat flashed them, and somehow threw them into a bizarre world filled with zombies dancing to “Thriller.” One of the best parts of Liquid Latex was the way the painters portrayed the characters. Babeu and Yahr were painted to be wearing skin-tight normal clothing (Babeu’s painted-on denims even had cuffs), while the rest of the group was painted like monsters. This bizarre paint-job combined with extreme lighting made the audience feel like they were attending a rave while on MDMA.

The second act, “Symphony of Brotherhood,” followed this up amazingly, and was probably one of the highlights of the show. Their music portrayed Dr. Martin Luther King and the music of Miri Ben Ari, and was one of the performances that was truly art. The five dancers, Sam Cortez ’13, Elena Horn ’13, Asher Krell ’13, Melanie Shapiro ’12 and Ben Stein ’12, each danced to the beautiful music but working together as one holistic unit. Their designs were very interesting in that they painted half their bodies in one way and half in the other way, and had half their hair made drastically different. As their description says: “The designs and choreography attempt to demonstrate in an abstract way how even the most different of people can join together to create something beautiful.” This was definitely accomplished, and by the end of the show, when they joined hands with the lights off, each clutching a flashlight pointed into the crowd, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one in the audience with goose bumps.
Other memorable acts include “A Tale of Love and Three Monsters,” a Bollywood-esque performance in which the hero has to complete three tasks to win the girl; “Go the Distance,” a tribute to our favorite Disney songs; and “British Invasion,” a performance featuring British musicians such as Mika, Adele and the Ting Tings. Another memorable performance was “Masked Desires,” in which Liquid Latex coordinator Alex Hulse ’12 adorns a Guy Fawkes mask and controls the world that one girl falls into.
Two other favorites included “L’efant Perdu” and “Fruit Ninja.” “L’efant Perdu” portrayed a boy getting lost in a circus-world, hilariously set by Greg Ryan ’12 riding a tiny tricycle and Kimberly Stamegna ’14 as the bearded woman along with others as various frightening creatures. This was another one that set the scene fantastically with loud lighting and terrifying models as they danced to “Vogue” by Madonna, which had a surreal effect on the piece. They ended with the song “I Fink U Freeky” by Die Antwoord, which essentially summarized the act overall.

I was a bit apprehensive when I found out a group called “Fruit Ninja” was performing, but their concept went amazingly. The group was based off the iPhone game with the same title, in which a ninja has to slice fruit. In this group’s adaptation of the game, the ninja was played by Carly Greenberg ’12, who was dressed in regular clothing while “slicing” the men of the group, painted perfectly to look like fruit. Greenberg’s designs were accomplished well, with stylish designs that could bring “watermelon” to mind when looking at Gregory Drozdow ’12 without thinking “round and obtuse.”

The last two were more literature-based. “Star-Crossed” told the “Romeo and Juliet” story and used props to convey a balcony as “Romeo” stood on audience level and gazed at “Juliet.” “Runway: From Books to Bodies” featured books as artwork on the models’ bodies. This piece was done in runway format, portraying either the famous books’ covers or themes from classics such as “Catch-22” and “The Scarlet Letter.” Though this wasn’t as fast-paced or as visually engaging as the other performances, it really allowed the audience to appreciate how much work was put into the artwork.
Liquid Latex is one of the few things on campus that is truly unique to Brandeis, and is definitely worth the hour and a half spent blushing.

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