Splurge Land sets an unfortunately familiar scene: a contemporary house party. It could be a no-parents-home situation, a typical Friday night in college, or just some young adults trying to have a good time. There’s smoking, drinking, body-flaunting, Instagramming, a bag of chips, loud electronic music, and—of course—dancing.
Kate Wallich/The YC dance through the late-night narrative of the post-net generation, one whose good times appear all the better because there are hashtagged photos to prove it. Yet, there’s an ominous feeling to Splurge Land that never quite goes away. The supposed fun never surpasses the bleak means of trying for it.
Performers Kate Wallich, Lavinia Vago, Waldean Nelson, and Matt Drews reveal certain social dynamics, habits, and behaviors that pervade choreographer Wallich’s own age range. It’s notable that she’s 26, not only because of the impressiveness of premiering such a hyped up show this early in her career, but because Splurge Land is a performance of modern youth culture.
A video showing the performers at a crowded party plays before the dancing begins, and it directly sets the scene. As the music starts and the dancers appear, it’s as if they stepped right off the screen.
Before long, the party unfolds as a 21st century mating ritual. The dancers’ refined movements are punctuated by those commonly seen at a club or in a Miley Cyrus video, and there’s no question what their gyrating, grinding, and twerking is meant to highlight.
The girls appear as friends who seem very comfortable with one other, holding hands and helping each other primp, but there’s also a sense of competition. Whose butt looks better in the Juicy Couture tracksuits they both wear? And who’s going to end up with which guy?
The guys toss the girls around, dragging them, sliding them across the floor, and sometimes more intimately carrying them. At all times it seems as if the women are being weighed and the men are trying to pick the best piece of fruit, only to chew it up and toss away the core as soon as they’re finished.
Each of the four primary performers also dances solo. This gives the impression that their actions are for themselves, but their movements always come back to their peers and how they all interact. What’s the point of a selfie that won’t be shared?
“Splurge God,” as he’s dubbed in the program, performed by Andrew Bartee, comes in mid-way through to reveal the daytime counterpart to this scene. He’s no less one of them, though. He swings from overly self-confident—strutting his stuff in his underwear—to self-critical—not pleased with what he sees and banging on the floor in frustration. No music accompanies his movements, but one can imagine the back and forth beats of his mind, hitting highs and lows, loud and quiet and unsure which is preferred. What he does alone at home is only slightly less peer-aware than the behaviors of those at the party.
Snap back to the party, but now it’s the morning after. A hangover follows every rager, and Splurge Land’s is no exception. There’s a moment of regret and of realization. The party-goers movements are slower and uncertain. They recognize each other, but seem hesitant to do so. There’s no real sense of clarity, but definitely a bit of complacency.
They may only have their Instagram posts to remember what happened. The photos scroll by, hashtagged, drawn on, and emojis added to make light of the self-destruction. Add in a little bit of ironic self-awareness, and it’s as if this is all OK.
Near the end, the dancers convene in a circle nodding in sync. Yes, they say. Yes, we are complicit, and we’re going to do this all over again.
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April 2 - 5