Underground River, winner of a 1998 BESSIE Award as a "risk-taking and profound theatrical tour de force," is an exploration of the rich fantasy life of a girl who appears to the outside world to be unconscious. Singing a cappella songs by Toshi Reagon and interacting with the magical visual creations of master puppeteer Basil Twist, the dancers dwell in a world of magic realism and eccentric beauty unseen by those who wish to make her "well."
Premiere: PS 122, New York City 1998
Concept/Direction/Text: Jane Comfort
Choreography: Jane Comfort and Company
Music: Toshi Reagon, Haydn and traditional folk song
Visual Effects: Basil Twist
Costumes: Liz Prince
Lighting: David Ferri
Current Cast: Lucie Baker, Leslie Cuyjet, Ellie Harrison, Petra van Noort
Recorded Voices: Leslie Nipkow, Larkin Malloy and Emily Weiner
Funding: Commission by Jacob's Pillow/PillowWorks series, with additional support from The New York State Council on the Arts and The Harkness Foundation for Dance.
"The dancers perform Comfort’s breezy choreography, simple skips and softly generous leaps, with such delicate ease that you can imagine the grass beneath their feet. A tiny puppet, the creation of the puppeteer Basil Twist, is extracted from the cage of an umbrella that floats down to these dreamgirls. They manipulate its limbs, first in funny little marches and kicks, and then it soars, swims, and floats across the stage. The vision is playfully mysterious and achingly beautiful." –The Boston Globe
"I've been rushing about to plays, concerts, dance, and last week, I saw art-ART-at Jacob's Pillow with Jane Comfort and Company."
– The Berkshire Eagle
"The gentle movements, patronizing tone of the psychiatrist's voice, toy-like flying fishes and the wee marionette the dancers charmingly manipulate fashion a touching child-like ambience. The dancers sing and move with a bouyance that is almost magical, they seem to transform the hard-surfaced floor into a pillowy cloud and hold the audience within their web." – Backstage