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    Merián Soto/ Modes!
Photos: Lance Reha

Modes! is a performance and exhibition project in progress that aims to catch the expressive dancing body in the improvisational moment. 

The Energy Modes are unifocal improvisational directives, which delimit very specific parameters wherein one practices somatic aesthetic action over time. Modes define particular ways of moving, particular actions that fine tune body-mind connections and provoke a shift in consciousness while pushing the edges of somatic experience. The dancer connects to an energy mode and rides it, clarifying and refining the mode through an accumulation of mental intentions and body responses. The dancer practices by tuning into the inherent structural wisdom of the body(ies). In Modal choreography, the dancer practices in performance; the performance is the practice. Improvisational in nature, the dancer creates the work as s/he dances it; the process is the art-work; the dancer is the dance.

Modal dancing has a way of balancing and lifting energies in the dancers’ bodies, and eliciting charged performances, of shifting the energy in a room. It is not uncommon to witness extraordinary moments of performance brilliance in the everyday practice of Modes. This experience has inspired Soto to catch those moments through digital technology, filming, projection, installation, and live performance, in order to provoke a kinesthetic experience and response in the audience. 

The project begins with digital recordings, of charged performances by dancers performing modal dancing. These are utilized in multiple channel video installations, to create surround-scapes, vibratory environments where audiences can experience heightened visual, sensual, kinesthetic, and visceral resonance with the moving bodies surrounding them. This empathetic response is magnified in live performance, an integral part of the project, which also includes bare bone performances, workshops, talk backs, and scholarly writing.

Since 2016 Soto has created two video installations, and sixlive performance works as part of Modes! Three of the live performance are in turn, part of a series titled Elephant: Modal Dances in the Time of Trump. The Elephant Series presents choreography fiercely committed to revealing a pathway to truth and responsive readiness through the focused and aligned dancing body. 

Photo: Brian Menghini
Photo: Bill Hebert
Spirit Vine
Modes! at Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art/Snug Harbor Cultural Center, NYC