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A synergistic fantasy

The multimedia event Dream Scapes blends music, movement and light to tell a story whose meaning transcends the expressive power of mere words.

By ROBERT HICKS
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 26, 2002


Dream sequences, aerial ballets, large-scale illusions, jazz, hip-hop, tribal dance and world music rhythms all come together in Dream Scapes, Steve Reid's multimedia, futuristic story of myth and imagination.

"I think the depth and breadth of our imagination is revealed through dreams," said Reid, a former member of '70s rock band Supertramp and jazz's the Rippingtons.

Although Bamboo Forest, his first concept for a multimedia theatrical project in the mid 1990s, didn't work out, Reid kept approaching theatrical companies and corporate sponsors with his ideas. Eventually, he raised enough money to premiere Dream Scapes at a 1999 Disney corporate event in Orlando. It premiered theatrically on July 20 this year at El Portal in Hollywood. Dream Scapes comes to the Mahaffey Theater on Friday.

"Dream Scapes basically came out of my longing to do a full-on theatrical piece," said Reid from his offices in North Hollywood. "Bamboo Forest was an exotic adventure with a lot of mythology. It dealt a lot with ancient rituals, drumming and fantasy. Dream Scapes is also about fantasy, but is a series of dreamlike, imaginary pieces where the flying, aerials and the music combine to create a very surreal atmosphere."

Dancer Elizabeth Brookman plays Terra, the main character, whose fantasies are Dream Scapes' centerpiece. When she is a young girl, Terra wants to be a ballerina. As she matures, she enters futuristic rave scenes. One romantic segment, "Flowers in the Soul," tells about her finding a soul mate. The theatrical journey ends in a cyber cafe where she dreams about a future dance world.

"She has dream states," said Reid. "You actually see her thoughts through projections. We have them front and rear. She can actually walk into the projection, and it will light up from behind her and become in reality her dreams, which are choreographed with dancers and music, either as an aerial or ballet piece, so it's all fantasy derived from her dreams and fantasies."

The show, which relies on visuals, music and movement to tell Terra's story, contains no dialogue.

Performers from Cirque du Soleil and other companies perform the aerial ballets. David Mendoza, who has worked with David Copperfield and Disney, stages the illusions.

The music is performed by a concert group consisting of Reid on percussion, Will Donato on saxes and flutes, Dig Lewis, formerly with Stevie Wonder and Boz Scaggs, on bass, Blake Aaron on electric and acoustic guitars, Hans Zirmuhlen on keyboards and Rogerio Jardim on drums and percussion. Louise Reichlin, who has worked with Jose Limon, Meredith Monk and Jerome Robbins, choreographs the four dancers, and Ali Lexa provides high-tech, computer-generated visual imagery.

"Musicians interact with the aerialists and dancers," said Reid. "All the time, you feel the energy of the musicians and you see them, unlike shows like Cirque du Soleil and Blue Man Group. I wanted to do something where all the other elements of visuals and entertainment were there, but you still always feel the power of the band. Being a percussionist, I wanted to bring percussion into it very strongly.

"There are themes of tribal, simple percussion and exotic world music. As the show evolves, more music comes through and the band is revealed and rocks really hard through the whole thing."

* * *

PREVIEW: Steve Reid's Dream Scapes, 8 p.m. Friday, Mahaffey Theater, St. Petersburg. $29-$33. (727) 892-5767 or (727) 892-5700.

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