In Tanya Calamoneri’s exhilarating dance-theater piece Art of Memory, three eccentric librarians in frilly Victorian-style dresses find themselves trapped in a cavernous library, searching for a way out. With graceful, fluid movements inspired by Japanese butoh, the women frolic on Sean Breault’s imaginative set, where books are suspended in the air and stacked in dangerously teetering heaps. From the Brontë sisters to Jorge Luis Borges, Calamoneri skillfully manages to turn her many influences into a cohesive and entertaining 50 minutes.
At the center of the literary chaos is the delightful Lisa Ramirez, who, from a platform above the stage, narrates dark fairy tales that the three women deftly act out. Each story shares the common theme of a female character punished for breaking the rules (the most gruesome being “Bluebeard,” in which the title character violently chops off the hands of his disobedient wife to end her dream of becoming a writer). Presented by Company So Go No, the piece, named for Frances Yates’s study of ancient memory techniques, will be easily remembered as a highlight of this year’s Ontological-Hysteric Incubator series, which offers an array of experimental works all summer long.