NOTE: The following videos contain flashing imagery.

PALINDROMES: Movement 4 from ICA/Boston on Vimeo.


PALINDROMES: Movement 8 from ICA/Boston on Vimeo.


Every summer the ICA invites choreographers to our stages as part of the Summer Stages Dance @ ICA/Boston residency program. For one week, choreographers craft, experiment, devise, and develop new work for dance. This past summer, with health and safety protocols in place, we welcomed a number of extraordinary artists including Francesca Harper, David Michalek, Reggie ‘Roc’ Gray, and Sandbox Percussion, along with several immensely talented dancers. We are so delighted to share with you the exceptionally creative and propulsive films created during their residency. We hope you enjoy!

John Andress,
Bill T. Jones Director/Curator of Performing Arts, ICA/Boston

Richard Colton,
Founder/Director, Summer Stages Dance @ ICA/Boston

PALINDROMES is a filmic, design, and choreographic response to Andy Akiho’s newly released work for percussion: Seven Pillars, performed by Sandbox Percussion.

The instrumentation includes traditional instruments such as vibraphone, glockenspiel, and marimba, with some found percussion sounds like glass bottles and metal pipes. Each section of Akiho’s new work, as well as the structure of the total program, is based upon palindromic principles such as mirroring and symmetry. Palindromes can be numbers (12321), letters (rotator), words (live/evil), musical phrases (A-B-C-B-A), or rhythmic sequences.

The dance/films designed to accompany Akiho’s shimmering percussion loosely evoke two palindromic forms: ink blot paintings and mandalas. Some of the strangeness and visual power of ink blot paintings can be seen in the way they evoke (sometimes simultaneously) other bilateral forms of nature: bug, leaf, crab, butterfly, and the endless varieties of that which we call “face.” The abstract and often ambiguous nature of inkblots are such that they allow viewers to voluntarily create multiple readings or interpretations (moment to moment) by shifting focus or altering one’s perceptual bias towards certain aspects of the overall design and its details. The defining element in mandala design, no matter how complex, is symmetry (in this way, the mandala becomes the visual expression of the belief that the core principle of the universe is balance and unity). However exuberant and complex the figures that exist within it, the design of the mandala provides a frame of order.

The video, design, and choreographic elements of PALINDROMES were curated by Richard Colton and created during a week-long residency with Summer Stages Dance @ ICA/Boston during August of 2021.