Month: June 2021

A Return to (Writing) Dance

My last blog post was 307 days ago.

Since then, I watched some live dance in Oakland from my car, viewed some dance films, and streamed one live dance performance. Writing about these dances was difficult. I have notes, but could not turn them into sentences, thoughts or ideas. It’s not easy to sit in front of my computer screen and watch dance films. I’ve been trying to figure out why. In my last post (307 days ago), I wrote about missing dance “as it passes,” its ephemerality, its liveliness. I also miss running into people at dance performances, talking during intermissions, trying to take notes in the dark, thinking through a dance as I walk home, letting a performance sit with me for a few days. When I saw the program for the ODC Theater Festival, I was glad to see familiar names so I decided to try watching again and see what I could discover.

Catherine Galasso’s film, (Alone Together)2, made with cinematographer Natalia Roberts is an ode to Alone Together, a 2018 as a site- specific work for ODC’s B. Way Theater in 2018. Alone Together placed the audience on the stage and the performers in theater seats to “playfully dissect the relationship between viewer and subject.” I did not see Alone Together so my response to (Alone Together)2 is without reference.

Galasso’s program notes were personal as well as revelatory. Included at the beginning of the film, they served as a kind of a prologue, expressing a resistance to creating (another) dance film, but found a path forward by focusing on the dancers as people to bring viewers closer to why dance and performance matters. Five of the original cast members returned to film individual sequences and interviews that were woven together. Odes are a kind of poem that addresses or responds to a particular situation, experience, or subject. They are expressive, rhythmic, and structured. If (Alone Together)2 is a ode then what is it an ode to? Galasso stated that (Alone Together)2 is an ode to Alone Together and to what we miss about live performance. For me, the film resonated in multiple ways as an ode to:

  • identity
  • movement
  • experience
  • memory
  • perseverance
  • change
  • dance
  • audiences

(Alone Together)2 is not just another dance film. It is a reminder that live dance performance matters. I am keen to see how dance in San Francisco and elsewhere slowly moves back into theaters.