Dancers with 3rd Law Dance. Courtesy photo

3rd Law Dance Brings Unique Introspection to the Stage


It’s hard to explain these shows. You just have to see one. Boulder’s award-winning 3rd Law Dance brings to the stage something completely different. These aren’t your ordinary dance performances following a neat storyline. They present sophisticated concepts and complex topics in the shape of contemporary dance and movement, passionate expression and theatrics that transcend words.

Sort of like an impressive piece of music: It might not have any lyrics and you might not know (literally) what it’s all about, but you can sense the power and the artistry, and it moves you on another level.

3rd Law dancers
3rd Law dancers. Courtesy photo

That’s how Paul Fowler explains 3rd Law. He is the newest artistic co-director and composer for the group.

The dance company is gearing up for its winter show, “Technological Singularity,” centered around the “imminent explosion of artificial intelligence” surpassing human capacity. Through contemporary dance and music, the show explores the positive and negative effects of AI on humanity.

See? Not the predictable topic for a dance show.

3rd Law dancers rehearsing
Dancers rehearse “Singularity” for 3rd Law. Courtesy photo

The show runs 7:30 p.m. Nov. 30; 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 1; and 3 p.m. Dec. 2 at the Dairy Arts Center, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder.

AI is everywhere. It’s in our phones, a cornerstone of modern business, involved in our consumption and marketing. So what happens when humans are no longer needed? The show plays with that question, informed by writings by computer scientists and philosophers.

“Singularity” is broken into three parts. The first looks at the worst-case scenario of a post-human dystopia. The second section explores where we are currently. The third paints a scene where technology improves our lives.

A "Singularity" rehearsal
A “Singularity” rehearsal behind the scenes. Courtesy photo

The art of dance takes these often abstract concepts and brings feeling to them, says Fowler.

“We explore our humanness,” he says.

Katie Elliott, artistic co-director, describes her choreography as a clothesline on the stage, onto which she hangs a variety of images. Different audience members will attach to different images and experience them in different ways.

“When we hear a song that doesn’t have words, we don’t ask what it’s about. We feel it,” she says. “We’re trying to get our audience to do the same.”

This transforms the message from a heady, brain experience to something more visceral, something you can process, contemplate and play with on a different level.

“We can explain these concerts as much as we want, but if we can’t feel it, we haven’t done our job,” she says.

Dancers for 3rd Law
Dancers for 3rd Law. Photo by Gray Area Dance

Elliott and her husband started 3rd Law in 2001. He died last year.

“It has been a challenging year for us, but with all of the help that came forward, we carried out our season and ended strong,” Elliott says.

After the loss of her husband, Fowler stepped in to be the new artistic co-director for both shows he composes music for and also shows he does not, like an upcoming performance in collaboration with the Boulder Bach Festival in 2019.

Also coming up in 2019: The company will open the Arvada Center’s Summer Series in June with a repertory show of audience members’ favorite pieces from the past. Elliott says she is also craving a site-specific installation in the future.

“I want to keep creating as long as I possibly can,” she says.

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