Reconstruction 3.0: Life is a Journey Performance Review

The Joffrey Ballet School, Parsons School of Design and the New Schools for Jazz and Contemporary Music teamed up to stage five short performances inspired by Louis Vuitton’s belief that “Life is a journey”… 

by Kenzie Boney and Kyera Giannini, Fashion Publishing


               The Manhattan Movement and Art Center heralded Valentine’s Day Eve with a celebration of Louis Vuitton’s lasting legacy in the world of fashion.  The three schools collaborated in small groups, each one performing an original dance set to music with conceptual costumes made by Parsons students from actual LV clothes.  And awaiting the winner?  A paid trip to Paris to visit the Vuitton Atelier itself.

The evening’s invitation-only performance attracted high-brow patrons.  Judges included Lanessa Elrod, VP of Merchandizing for Louis Vuitton North America; Choreographer Gus Solomons Jr.; Composer Laura Kaminsky; our own Dean Simon Collins and Zanna Roberts Rassi, the Senior Fashion Editor at Marie Claire.  Before the show the guests crowded into the small entry space and complimented each other on tailored capes and bright red pantsuits and braving bare legs in the cold.  When the doors opened, the VIPs, wearing special gold wristbands that later granted access to a party in the Magic Room at LVMH Tower, made their way to the front three rows.  The rest climbed into a set of bleacher-style seating.

Dean Collins, with his usual blend of directness and British charm, introduced the performance.  For the next hour five groups whirled past in a blur of hypnotic movement and music.  One focused on water as the source of life, with the dancers draped in billowy, watercolored gowns.  Another chose the future as its setting and had a wildly entertaining series of lights within the outfits and headlamps that they turned on the audience as the finale.  One constructed frilly dresses in bright colors a-la Fraggle Rock.  But it was the last of the evening, titled Chronogenesis, that stole the show and the grand prize.

A behind-the-scenes video demonstrated the intricate process that the Chronogenesis team went through to make their clothes, which involved a Plaster of Paris-like process and tying strings from the fabric to the ceiling to create sharp points and lacquered surfaces.  Essentially, they warped the fabric into a completely new medium.  With it they built amphibious, reptilian costumes that resembled nascent creatures early in human evolution.  The music pulsed with near-techno throbbing and the dancers jerked and stomped in sharp movements.  The judges decided quickly.

In the lobby afterwards the dancers from Chronogenesis expressed their astonishment.  “You know, I don’t know if I quite believe it,” said Jaedon Thomson, eyes ringed in black eyeliner as wide as a Harlequin mask.

“We’re just really excited,” added her dancemate Maria Rodriguez, “because this process would’ve been worth it even if we didn’t win, because it was so artistic and fun to work with designers and music.”  She breaks into a wide smile.  “And we’re ready to go to Paris!”