Choreography by Brenda Way and KT Nelson
I saw both programs. In the program notes, Marie Tollon (ODC Theater Writer-in-Residence) suggests that the dances presented in this series respond to social and political issues (6). So I took this as my starting point, or rather, my point of contact. The first, “Boulder and Bones“. I saw the premier of this piece last year and loved it. The relationships between the choreography, music, staging, and video work to produce a high level of art. It was beautiful. I am not sure that it responds to a social or political issue, however. I don’t think it really “speaks” in that way. The other two pieces, “The Invention of wings” and “Dead Reckoning,” seem attempts at speech, but for me they failed to generate much thinking about social or political issues. Tollon’s program notes indicate that “The Invention of Wings” (originally a site-specific work at the Ai Weiwei exhibit on Alcatraz) is a reflection on the freedom of expression and Dead Reckoning considers the “careless impact of humans on the natural world” (6). Neither are fully realized. There are stunning moments in both pieces, and the dancers move beautifully. But there was something missing. The SF Gate review by Allan Ulrich couldn’t get past the choreography – he seemed unable to engage with the messages of these two dances were attempting to articulate.
As the person sitting next to me said, “just because you have dancers that can do anything doesn’t mean they have to.” I couldn’t agree more. These two pieces seemed too caught up choreographic techniques to fully bring forth messages political or otherwise.
Choreographed by Miguel Gutierrez
I didn’t know much about this show going in except for the email from ConterPulse warning me of strong odors during the show, including fingernail polish. I was kind of disappointed that fingernail polish was the only strong odor. Gutierrez gave his program notes live in which he mentioned that the piece had 3 titles (note: this is similar what Keith Hennessy did for “Bear/Skin“; a trend I like). I have to disagree Gutierrez. I think there is only one title, but it is juicy one especially if you feel like geeking out on his use of a colon and backslash. He also mentioned some dance theory, which I appreciated because I am a geek about that too. But I think he was right, you didn’t need to know the theory in order to get something out of the performance.
The piece began with two men – one in a women’s pink bathing suit, stocky build – the other a skinny white boy dressed in baggy white workout clothes. They danced the same movement for about 15 minutes to Silvio Ecomo & Chuckie. It was oddly superb. There was nothing to focus on except the juxtaposition between these two different bodies. It could’ve been longer; I wanted it to be longer. In fact, this section of the dance is the only part that really stuck with me (yes, even more than when Miguel’s face was in Mickey’s balls). It might be due to the fact that I found the later part of the piece a little too self-indulgent. So I choose to stay connected to what resonated. I appreciated the commitment to that level of technical repetition and how it directed my attention toward the sameness and difference of these two (moving) bodies. How could it be that a skinny white boy moved “the same” as a chunky latino? What does this say about bodies and how we see them? Why don’t we see sameness in difference? I enjoyed being led to these questions and would be keen for more.