In 1848, Kate and Margaret Fox became international superstars when they claimed they could communicate with the dead. Their interpretations of mysterious knockings, famously known as "spirit rappings," brought the girls fame and fortune as mediums and birthed the spiritualist movement. Séances, table tipping, spirit photography, and the Fox sisters all figure prominently in "Ectospams," a charming movement meditation written and directed by Jessica Bonenfant and Edmund B. Lingan and choreographed by Bonenfant in collaboration with the performers of Lola Lola Dance Theatre.
In a series of dance vignettes, spirits elegantly flit among the living as entranced mediums tremble and sway. Swaths of muslin representing ectoplasm, the gauzy substance spirits leave behind, entangle dancing apparitions; a mournful piano tinkles; and percussive spirit rappings pound away. And while "Ectospasms" is haunted by structural woes—the parts don't add up to much of a whole—these ecstatic states prove both eerie and poignant.
Of course, the Fox sisters later admitted their séances were all an elaborate hoax. But no matter: In this case, the medium is in fact the message.
Presented by Lola Lola Dance Company and the Institute for the Study of Performance and Spirituality as part of the New York International Fringe Festival at the Robert Moss Theatre, 440 Lafayette St., NYC. Aug. 16–23. Remaining performances: Sat., Aug. 22, noon and 7 p.m.; Sun., Aug. 23, 9:30 p.m. (866) 468-7619 or www.fringenyc.org.