Theater, Martial Arts, Dance, Oh My!

Review of Radical System Art at Edmonds Center for the Arts

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Lorelei Schwarz and edited by Teen Editorial Staff Member Audrey Gray


Aside from the ferry’s foghorn, there’s rarely a reason for things in Edmonds to be loud. It’s a quiet suburban town with overly nice drivers and a median age ten years above the national average—that is to say, it’s not the place you’d expect to find an experimental dance/theater/martial arts performance on a Saturday night. But there it was: a half-full house at Edmonds Center for the Arts and Radical System Art’s eight-person cast who brought more energy than this writer’s ever seen in her sleepy town.

The show, Momentum of Isolation began, even before the brief curtain speech and the extinguishing of the house lights, with a man typing at a desk. Unbeknownst to the audience at that point, he’d soon become the main focus of the show, the continuing plot that tied together other seemingly disparate stories. One scene included a depiction of online dating, followed by one dancer trying to woo another, providing brief comedic relief. Another featured the ensemble falling in and out of step with each other. Going into the show with no clue of the performance’s themes, it was at times difficult to parse the significance of scenes or moments. One had the sense that things were supposed to be profound, that the audience was supposed to feel something or react a certain way, but at times the jarring effects and mixture of movements seemed blended beyond coherency. Until checking the website and finding that this performance was “centered around the themes of loneliness and social isolation,” I struggled to describe the overall sense of the show.

Photo Credit: Emilie Bland

That’s not to say it was overall unimpressive or even unmoving—many scenes, especially those featuring the ensemble (the seven performers aside from the man at the desk), stood out for their clarity and beauty. This was a performance that knew how to build. It seemed almost more theatrical than dance-based, with clear beats and scene changes brought about by the ensemble members falling in and out of sync with the rest of the group. These dancers took turns as leads in their subplot stories, and each one who stepped forward truly took control of the stage for their allotted time. One scene had the main dancer interacting directly with the audience, shouting, “How are we feeling tonight, Edmonds?!” This unexpected break in the fourth wall, like many other scenes, added layers of complexity to the narrative of the performance. Each scene felt unique, with a clear beginning, progression, and end, where tension built from nothing to an all-encompassing experience.

Photo Credit: Emilie Bland

The technical choices of the show set it apart from similar productions—one would be hard-pressed to find any kind of show comparable to this one in content and range. Some scenes were based on music, and others were based on seemingly chaotic collections of noises or pre-recorded conversations. In one, an ensemble member, awkwardly trying to recite another dancer a love poem, kept tripping over his words, literally tripping and falling onstage, physically representing the tone and acting out the words playing over the speakers. In the very first scene, choppy audio clips from newscasts, home videos, and any number of other sources played from offstage. The dancer was pulled back and forth across the stage by thick ropes attached to his suit jacket. These movements, which were crisp and well-rehearsed, worked with the sound design and lights from offstage to create a real sense of movement and fluctuating distance. Light and sound continued to support the dancers throughout the production, yet it never felt forced or overproduced. There was no tech just for the sake of tech; every aspect of the performance served a purpose.

Indeed, everything about the show feels intentional and thought-out, but that clarity didn’t consistently translate. It was a unique show that left me considering it long after I saw it. I made sure to keep my eyes on the stage at all times; if you blink, you’re likely to miss something extraordinary.

Lead Photo Credit: Emilie Bland

The TeenTix Newsroom is a group of teen writers led by the Teen Editorial Staff. For each review, Newsroom writers work individually with a teen editor to polish their writing for publication. The Teen Editorial Staff is made up of 5 teens who curate the review portion of the TeenTix blog. More information about the Teen Editorial Staff can be found HERE.

The TeenTix Press Corps promotes critical thinking, communication, and information literacy through criticism and journalism practice for teens. For more information about the Press Corps program see HERE.

TeenTix Logo
Sign Up


Create an account | Reset your password