Skip to Navigation Skip to Content

Local Artist Catherine Galasso Premieres Work About the Forefathers of Film

Christine Bonansea and Marina Fukushima as the Lumière brothers. Photo by Miguel Arzabe.

Before local ODC Theater resident Catherine Galasso jets off to Paris and New York with her latest show, she's premiering Bring On The Lumière! right here at homebase. The show—a combination of dance, theater, light, and illusion—is inspired by the French forefathers of film, the Lumière brothers. Like all of her work, Galasso pushes the boundaries of traditional performance in an exploration of uncharted territories. We took a few minutes of Galasso's time to talk about Bring On The Lumière!.

Can you give us a teaser about your dance-theater-light show?
The show ranges from funny to haunting to mesmerizing. It is not a straightforward biography but rather an abstract work that is evocative, poetic, and expressionistic. The piece features two amazing dancers (Christine Bonansea and Marina Fukushima) as they inhabit the Lumière Brothers—they act as hypothetical versions of August and Louis Lumière, who find themselves trapped inside their own films. I've recreated certain films such as Workers Leaving the Factory, and the piece combines evocative lighting by Elaine Buckholtz. My father, Cesar Award-winning composer Michael Galasso (In The Mood For Love, Seraphine), wrote the music. All of these components make up a poetic journey that is a meditation on immortality and an ode to cinema.

What inspired you to create a piece about the Lumière brothers?
I was first exposed to the Lumière brothers' films during my undergraduate film studies at Cornell University.  I was fascinated by the idea that the Lumière brothers created something we take for granted today—that people can live on through moving images. It's profoundly weird that we have a world where people linger on through film. Also related to this is the fact that I'm working with my father's music—he died two years ago, and yet we are still collaborating through this piece, so it's really about immortality on several different levels.

What made you decide to make it into a dance/theater/light installation combo?
I am a multi-disciplinary artist and have wide-ranging influences—from Robert Wilson to Pina Bausch to Ingmar Bergman—so my work has always been somewhere between dance and theater with a lot of cinematic qualities. In French, lumière means light. The brothers' last name meant light. So when I connected with this amazing lighting designer, Elaine Buckholtz, I realized that this piece had to be about light.

How have you brought the brothers into the 21st century?
This is not any sort of objective history of who they were and what they did. Instead, it's a hybrid of speculative nonfiction. It's a modern meditation, and I'm using them as a jumping off point to explore the Pandora's box they opened up. The ideas of representing ourselves through media—that's an era that began with the Lumière Brothers.  We live in a world that's totally saturated with film and video, and that began with them. With this piece, I'm looking at them from the present moment. Even the recreation of Workers Leaving the Factory involves real people playing themselves—it's a modern adaptation of their original work.

In your opinion, how have the Lumière brothers influenced film today?
They created the genre! Capturing the wonder of the everyday, taking life as we know it and putting it up on the screen gave film a kind of magic. The Lumière brothers also made a lot of comedies, and you can trace almost all of the impulses in film today back to the Lumière Brothers' films.

Bring On The Lumière! runs at ODC Theater from Fri. 11/11 – Sun. 11/13; 3153 17th St., odc.org