Walking Distance Festival

June 3rd & 4th “Walking Distance Festival”

Choreography by Many

Writing Out of Sequence

I’m a little out of sequence posting this response – lots of dance at the beginning of June.  I’ve watched and written this festival for 3 years.  This year, The program consisted of two different experiences: an evening of theater dance and an afternoon of site-specific dance.  

In her program notes, Marie Tollon (ODC’s Writer-in-Residence) framed the Friday night’s program as “Identity as a Constellation,” which aptly captured the thematic connection between the two performers, Nā Lei Hulu I Ka Wēkiu and Christopher K. Morgan.  Both share a connection to Hawaiian tradition in contemporary contexts.  In their dances, these connections were forged in direct ways, explicitly leading the audience to consider communal and individual journeys by dancing and talking.  In this context, the talking by Nā Lei Hulu I Ka Wēkiu director, Patrick Makuākane in between the dances.  I learned a lot about the hula dance tradition and was interested in how Makuākane uses the language of hula to participate in political conversations.  For example, Makuākane choreographed The Birth Certificate Hula in 2012 in response to the “controversy” over Obama’s birth certificate.  Yes, even hula can be rhetorical.

After Nā Lei Hulu I Ka Wēkiu I walked from the ODC dance commons to the ODC By Way to watch Pohaku.  The two companies met in the street and performed a ritual – it seemed fitting.  Pohaku, choreographed and danced by Morgan also included talking.  Morgan and danced and narrated this dance theater piece that brings “together storytelling, hula, modern dance, classical music, and projection design to explore compelling universal themes in the story of Hawaii’s native people, including land loss and fractured identity.”  I didn’t think much about this piece.  So I tried to seek out a little more information and watched this short video about the piece.  I found much more interesting than the dance itself. I wonder what makes a dance more interesting to watch in the process of making than to watch in performance.     

Saturday afternoon the festival included for the first time a set of site-specific dances all over the mission.  Titled, “Mission Street Dances,” the audience was led to six different locations to see dances by Smith/Wymore, David Herrera Performance Company, 13th Floor, ODC/Dance, Dance Brigade, and Kim Epifano’s Epiphany Productions.  I enjoyed much of what I watched including the streets.  The small duets by ODC/Dance dotted the route between the six dances that were mostly staged outside in a park, parking lot, storefront, alley, and side of a building.  There was talking, singing, dancing, and more.  I really didn’t have a favorite dance, but I did enjoy the afternoon of walking and watching, and I enjoyed seeing dances that I had never seen such as Dance Brigade and 13th Floor.  The pulse of the street was felt in both expected and unexpected ways.  

Advertisements

September 25th, “Earth/Body/Home”

Choreography by Amara Tabor-Smith 

Dancing on the street – talking with Christy Bollingbroke- kneeling in the lobby watching/observing/listening.  A familiar form (Tabor-Smith had a similar beginning at the Walking Distance Festival in 2013).  Then there was a speech or rather some talking and quoting, a preface of sorts.  It seemed a little much at the time. I did write down some words in my notebook (in no particular order):

mourning

birth

migration – immigration

place no place

what remains?

home

There really wasn’t time to read the program.

It felt like a ritual, but not.

It felt like a dance performance, but not.

The program notes started with: “The ritual which you will participate in…”  But I didn’t feel like a participant in a ritual: I wasn’t asked.  I felt like an audience member that was bearing witness to something I didn’t know much about; it was odd.  What if I refuse to participate?  What then?  I was almost so consumed by this oddness that I mostly forgot the dancing, the movement of bodies on the stage.  What were they doing? What were they saying?  How did they move?  Maybe it doesn’t matter. I wanted it to matter.

June 5th and 6th, “Walking Distance Festival”

 

Programs A & C

I saw four different dances, and here are my very gut reactions to each one.

Program A

Double Exposure, RAWDance

The best I’ve seen of them and some segments were quite interesting.  I’ll go see the larger work, but I am still not sold on them choreographically or as dancers.  Why do they only choreograph for themselves?  As N said, “They seem a little too self-congratulatory.”

Pupil Suite, Gallim Dance

I’m just going to say it: I was kind of offended (and shocked that N had the same response).  There as a part of the dance that crossed a line.  I’m sure I opened my mouth in surprise, or scrunched up my nose – did I really just see that?  It’s hard to describe, but the movement seemed to be mocking to a degree of maybe not being aware of its potential offensiveness.  Didn’t anyone tell them?  Am I being too sensitive? Overall, I liked their aesthetic and the first two sections were fantastic.  I’m a little confused.

Program C

Dwelling, GERALDCASINGDANCE

Some responses:

K: “that was the longest 30 minutes of my life”

N: “that was so disappointing”

Probably the most interesting part was when one of them quoted Heidegger.  The rest was an utter bore.

The Dance that Documents Itself, Jess Curtis/Gravity

I don’t mind naked bodies on stage, but I need it to mean something.  The rest did seem to get at larger issues of digital documentation, subjectivity, etc.  I appreciated the moment when Jess stepped out to address the current state of San Francisco’s economy and housing crisis.  He recognized that some things just can’t be “danced” and need speech; dance isn’t always the best way to communicate.  I was a little surprised that Christy Bollingbroke mentioned that this piece is a “set-up” for the ODC Theater programming for the next season.  I am curious to see how that plays out and what it means.