First Performances of 2018.
Another slow start. I have yet to process all the dance from 2017. I saw a lot and wrote a little less. I did an interview, had a conversation, and invited a guest writer. I had fun.
My first show of 2018 was back in January. I caught Fresh Festival Performance Weekend #2 at the Joe Good Annex with choreography by Gerald Casel and Keith Hennessy; Sara Shelton Mann; Rachael Dichter and Allie Hankins. It’s interesting to look back – what do I remember? What lingers? Here are two lingering memories:
In” A Dance in a Theatre” Keith Hennessy kept all his clothes on!
Loved the refrain at the end of “FramesFrames/The Revolving Door II” by Mann. It was a satisfying repeating of song and movement that brought some of the audience on the stage – I couldn’t help but smile.
I also snuck in A.C.T.’s production of Harold Pinter’s The Birthday Party. I loved all of it – the acting, storytelling, the humor. I didn’t mind being out past my bedtime.
Choreographed by Nina Haft & Company
It’s been a while, again.
On the recommendation of friends, I walked into the Joe Goode Annex. Before any dancing started, I saw this:
As I took my seat, I felt immersed by the visual and sonic representations of water. The title, King Tide, refers to what happens when the moon and sun align to bring about what is more commonly known as high tide. This theme of water was reflected in all aspects of the dance The three sections made references to water’s action: “ebb & flow”; “almanac”; and “shrinking ground.” Haft’s program notes referred to the crisis in our watersheds and climate change. The brief dancer biographies describe not their dance credentials, but their connections to water. Haft undertook extensive research (a 3 year process) to make King Tide, which was evident in what I saw on Thursday night.
The first section, “ebb & flow,” was beautifully composed and performed. The movement (and sound) expressed not only the ebb and flow of water, but also of time and breath. It all seemed deliberately slow even when the movement quickened. I found myself with time to consider how human bodies are also ebbing and flowing as the dancers breathed with their limbs, extending their reach out into the landscape. For me, there was something very satisfying to slowing down; a different way of being with time. For the second section, I was brought down to the perimeter of the stage with about ½ of the audience. Sitting so close it was not hard to notice the strength between the two dancers in “almanac.” It was striking to track their orbits and how they responded to each other. The last section, “shrinking ground” was aptly titled. The faces, movements, and lighting all contributed to a sense of closing in, of being pushed back by some force. The diversity of bodies on the stage added to the human realness of the piece. Sometimes when a piece gets worked on for a long time it looses its edge but this is not the case with King Tide. There is a maturity of thought happening not only in the choreography, but also between the dancers. I greatly value this kind of thinking through movement and the research that sits behind the piece. I wonder what’s next for Haft. Next time I won’t wait 3 years.
Choreographed by Keith Hennessy
“It’s ok to sit in front”
I didn’t know that Hennessy’s previous show included urinating on the stage. So, we sat in front. On cushions. I sat next to Guillermo Gómez-Peña; it seemed the place to be.
The best part of this dance was the speech at the beginning. The rest was oddly interesting as a study on The Rite of Spring and the act/action of sacrifice. It was at times strikingly personal and at other times strangely unrefined. Space blankets! I didn’t “get” the piece in its totality, but I don’t think that was the point. I was happy to be left with questions:
Why do we keep returning to the The Rite of Spring ? Sacrifice? The unknown (and hence a filling in or creating in). Why do we want to fill in the gaps? What does it matter to recover a lost dance? What does this kind of repetition say about dance, culture, history?