March 13th and 20th, “ODC/Dance Downtown”

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.

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