A New Way of Seeing Performance: DD Dorvillier’s "Extra Shapes"

Picture a slice of Neapolitan ice cream with its three separate bands—strawberry, vanilla, chocolate. The three flavors—made separately—are only considered Neapolitan when they unite. This is how DD Dorvillier conceived the collaborative work Extra Shapes. For the project, Thomas Dunn, a lighting designer, Sébastien Roux, a composer, and dancers Katerina Andreou, Walter Dundervill and DD herself, worked on their individual mediums together in the same room, but autonomously. This process is continued through to the performance itself, which premiered at The Kitchen March 25, 2016.

Extra Shapes—a project supported by Creative Capital​takes place in a rectangular ​playing ​space divided into three stripes​,​ ​like our slice of Neapolitan ice cream. Each stripe represents three different mediums: strawberry (sound), vanilla (light), chocolate (dance)​. The full piece consists of three simultaneous​ 17-minute sequence​s​​ of each medium​ repeated three times. After each iteration the audience moves to a new side of the rectangle, and the perspective of the viewer shifts, as experiences accumulate.

It may seem odd for DD Dorvillier, a choreographer and someone who has made dance her “life project,” to separate the acts of composition of movement from light or sound. But DD insists that by extricating the art forms from each other, the viewer will have a more empowered sense of looking and experiencing the piece.

“We’re trying to separate the dramatic elements of sound, lights, and movement enough,” DD says, “so that a broader sense of looking, listening, and thinking is possible.”


“In some ways,” she writes, “this work is aimed at a viewer who gives themselves permission to look and listen without needing to produce an outcome, one who wants (maybe without even knowing it) to discover autonomously, to have their own thoughts, outside a realm of given interpretations and fixed understanding.”

For DD, a more democratic way of experiencing a performance is not just an abstract experiment: “I think this could produce new forms of critical research–fresh ways of valuating and discussing, not only this work but the works of other artists dealing with these issues.”

Extra Shapes by DD Dorvillier premieres at the Kitchen March 25-29. For more information about the performance, click here.