“If we wait, we will miss something,” says Ginger Krebs huddled in an alcove underneath her stage built into the Storefront Theater. Her impassioned speech is preceded by a video of her chasing an endless white line on what appears to be an airport tarmac, perhaps echoing the notion of having waited too long, yet her three additional cast members (Sabrina Baranda, Elise Cowin and Joanna Furnans) are experts at waiting. Patience is indeed a virtue bestowed upon Krebs’ Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artist project Buffer Overrun, coming to fruition at last after a year in process and several iterations. The good morsels, however, have remained in tact since the beginning.
Krebs often skirts the line between dance and performance art; Buffer Overrun feels to be both – or neither – depending on how you look at it. The small number of seats available for each of the four performances at the Storefront are deliberately close to Krebs’ raked stage. Rather than the traditional orientation, the rake is highest at stage right, giving the whole visual landscape an off-kilter appearance and fodder for a series of posed slides down the ramp on what look to be recess scooters. A digital ticker tape upstage follows the rake’s altitude, passing a mesmerizing series of rectangles up the ramp until they blend together in that all-too-familiar buffering scroll.
You know the one: it’s that annoying line or wheel on your computer screen when the Internet can’t catch up with what you want it to do, forcing you to sit there, and just wait. Yet “if we wait, we will miss something…” In a time that is chock full of instant gratification, we often find ourselves in these situations. “Hurry up and wait” has become the mantra of modern day society; boredom and impatience are dangerously close at all times and yet we (dance artists) continually lock people in dark rooms for hours at a time and force them to stare at something until it’s over. Such is the case for Buffer Overrun, enhanced by a clock counting backwards, panging our consciences with a continuous state of urgency.
Buffer Overrun might read as simplistic, particularly to those who are familiar with Krebs’ previous works. It’s not chock full of props and randomness; Krebs is meticulous in every aspect of this work, perhaps attributed to her affinity for butoh. Make no mistake: there is a seriously detailed structure underpinning this work. If not evident in the faces of the dancers, the exorbitant number of colored spike marks onstage and carefully coordinated score by Joseph Kramer are a small indication of the treatment Krebs paid to this hour and some change. Truthfully, Buffer Overrun looks nothing like butoh I’ve seen, but for a form that refutes definition, it is perhaps a perfect example. In fact, Buffer Overrun looks like nothing Krebs has made before, either. Whether this aesthetic shift is to be accounted for by the extra-long process, a different cast, a big sum of money to work with, or something altogether different, after a year in her mathematical vortex, it is quite possible the process has driven her to madness – the type associated with brilliance.
Buffer Overrun runs Feb. 4-7 at the Storefront Theater, 66 E. Randolph St. Tickets are $10-15 available online or cash only at the door. Tickets are extremely limited; advance purchase is highly recommended.