Upon entering Brooklyn Academy of Music’s newest theatre, the Fishman Space, the audience is seated on all four sides, with four mercury-vapor industrial lamps menacingly suspended above the performance area. As the show begins, and the fired lamps begin to warm up, three couples emerge from the darkness in a state of tremor that is – pardon a pedestrian reference here – reminiscent of zombies. Or are they atoms is a state of excitement?

Judging from the promotional materials, creating QUANTUM – on show this week at the Brooklyn Academy of Music as part of this year Crossing The Line festival – was quite a complex undertaking. A collaboration between choreographer Gilles Jobin and visual artist Julius von Bismarck (and a small army of engineers and scientific advisers, according to the playbill), the work was created as part of the artists’ residency at CERN, the famed Swiss laboratory buried deep under the earth's crust, which is home to the largest particle collider in the world.

Quantum mechanics and the behavior of subatomic particles, it would seem, is indeed the fodder that QUANTUM is made of. And yet, in spite of the formidable, complex subject matter, the ensuing translation into a work of art is decidedly underwhelming. As the work progresses, the company of six dancers, clad in skin-tight lizard-like zigzag-patterned body suits moves around the stage in flocks, collides and separates, gestures, shakes and crosses the space accompanied by spacey sounds, the whole lot being reminiscent of early sci-fi, circa 1960’s. To be fair, the dancers seem skilled and competent, but the limited physical vocabulary that they were given – consisting, mostly, of different forms of walking and simple isolations – is not particularly inventive to the point where the choreography feels rather perfunctory, most of the time, and the entire proceedings feel like task-based exercises in a dance class.

Ironically, the biggest star of the piece was von Bismarck’s “lumino-kinetic installation”: the aforementioned industrial bulbs are connected to a motorized device that – so the press release explains – responds to the dancers movement to produce different pendulum-like swinging patterns. While it is evident that a great deal of effort and research went into the creation of this work, regrettably it is likewise evident that QUANTUM remains stuck in the realm of ideas. Graphs of collision particles may look compelling on a computer screen; rendering them into a compelling performance is a different matter, and, in this case, it was lost in translation.