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Pasaphae and Asterion

Lara Altunian on Asterion

Four people form a family portrait: Mom and Dad stand tall and stony-faced side-by-side, their daughter crouches child-like in front of her father’s legs and the son sits on a chair that faces the opposite direction.

A canopy made of tangled strings encapsulates Asterion in the creation of his relatives’ deception. He is stuck in the labyrinth that seals his fate, fighting to remain human within his step-father’s prison and against the demons in his mind. But Asterion is the Minotaur. He will always be part-bull.

Red lights illuminate his anger as erratic strings and percussion echo his furious descent into bestial transformation. Nightmares of frustration lead to pounding fists against the stage and his chest, resounding like gunshots through the dark theater.

Dance punctuates heated moments of dialogue. In between cryptic conversations characters waltz through dim light; a warm embrace morphs into a chokehold. Couples push each other onto the floor, straddling one another lustfully, then freezing as the lights brighten and dialogue resumes in the foreground. Their poses serve as the ultimate reminder of incestuous desire. All interactions suddenly stop as each person grabs a chair and stomps it forward while loudly proclaiming feelings of discontent. Moments that break free from conventional exchanges tell louder truths as the reality of their actions blur.

Intermittent appearances of Theseus and the choir as voices in Asterion’s head are forewarnings of his futility and impending fate. Amidst escaping chaos, there is no relief in death or overcoming who he is: always the Minotaur, always a bull.

Lara Altunian is an LA-based dance writer and arts journalist. She is a recent master’s graduate from the University of Southern California who is interested in visual and interactive storytelling, and thrives in finding meaning within the poetry of unspoken movement.


Asterion by the Ghost Road Company happened on November 19th and 20th at the Getty Villa as part of the Villa Theater Lab series.

The Ghost Road Company is an ensemble that scavenges the current social landscape for objects, language and images that are, in turn, informed by the ensemble’s individual experiences of the world, creating something surprising and unexpected. The world of the piece is the piece itself, in which the “everyday” transforms into unexpected realizations and epiphanies about the nature of truth and possibility in the world at large.

photos by Stephanie Fishbein

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