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Dance at the Fringe: ‘Thrower of Light’

What would Carl Jung or Joseph Campbell make of Cathy Wright’s dances? Or theorist Donna Haraway? Or, for that matter, someone like Trent Reznor? By turns mythic, animalistic and cyborgian, the Minneapolis choreographer’s work is nightmarish and cabalistic, with heavy doses of both goth and grunge aesthetics.

Wright’s dancers all go at her modern-dance-based movement vocabulary with full-bore expressiveness, and possess a range of body types (not to mention memorable faces) that inflect her choreography with every shade possible on the dark end of the color spectrum — and deep end of the psychological scale. Matthew S. Smith’s industrial electro-metal sound scores drive it home.

In some of the excerpts on the Fringe program — which includes past work, as well as two premieres — the dancers are feral remnants of our prehistoric past and our everyday primal id. In other excerpts, they’re futuristic reifications of our current obsession with and horror of technology. That’s right. The unconsciousness is archetypal; time is irrelevant. Watching Wright’s work is akin to looking at humanity (yes, that includes you) in a mirror where the image is pure rage-ful feeling.

A self-proclaimed aficionado of David Lynch (bios of the performers are projected on screen before the show, and Wright’s says, “Will one day share a cup of joe and a smoke with David Lynch”), she’s much darker in temperament and psychic intensity. Just when you’re ready to scream “Uncle!” Wright makes a perky appearance on stage to thank everyone for attending and announce that two more excerpts remain. Stunned silence. (“Wow, she seems so … normal.”)

And the show does conclude with a lyrical tribute to her father set to Neil Young’s “Old Man,” and a giddy salute to pirates. Whew. I needed a tumbler of vodka and a very rare steak after that.

“Thrower of Light.” Thursday, Aug. 6, 8:30 p.m.; Saturday, Aug. 8, 4 p.m.; Ritz Theater, 345 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis.

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