Arts preview: Anna and the Annadroids

Jim Fischer
Columbus Alive

Anna and the Annadroids are performing in Columbus for the first time in six years, and you'll be glad to know they still look the same — as each other.

The highly stylized dance/performance art company has resided on the West Coast since founder and artistic director/choreographer Anna Sullivan moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2011. Sullivan developed the clone-like characters, the Annadroids, here in her hometown, becoming favorites on local stages and regulars at ComFest, Gallery Hop and Trauma.

“I really liked the idea of exaggeration — whether a movement or a look — specifically the exaggerated female, the idolized female, [with] the long eyelashes [and] sexy red lips,” Sullivan said. “The white face kind of makes the eyes and mouth pop. … These things that have been sexualized about women — batting eyes and luscious red lips — those things stand out when you wear this makeup.”

The concept, Sullivan said, balances her academic dance training with her background as a young dancer in the flashy competitive dance scene.

“I think that in a weird way, society encourages us to be clones. ‘You want a house like this. You want a car like this. You want to look like this. You want to wear this. You want to do this,'” Sullivan said. “So in a way, yes, it's a statement for sure about how society is. The more the dancers look alike, the better. I like to play with the look [and] change the wig or the costumes, but that clone-like element stays consistent. Everyone knows it's an Annadroid.”

Sullivan brings her troupe home for a newly created show titled “Faux(pas)bia,” which debuted last month in San Francisco. In addition to having a new story, the show includes new or enhanced production elements, as well, including aerial choreography, video projection and an original musical score courtesy of Sullivan's partner, Alexi Alexaieff.

The story is a commentary on fear and the omnipresent media.

“Obviously, it's a play on words, a faux pas being a mistake and phobia [being] fear. So it's the mistake of living in fear,” Sullivan said. “Basically, it takes you on a journey through an Annadroid's experience and how this Annadroid copes with fear and all the ways that is expressed: panic, sadness, anger, silliness. We are being shoved media that is full of fear and phobia, and it's become almost unavoidable.

“As it gets to the end, there is a resolution [and] a feeling of things getting better that I hope makes people feel less isolated and alone in their feelings.”

Riffe Center Studio One Theatre

8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, March 30-April 1

77 S. High St., Downtown