ADF: Bill T. Jones’ TRILOGY, part 1 (again)

BillTJonesArnieZane-Dora-007

The Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company performing Jones’ Analogy/Dora: Tramontane in the ADF presentation in the DPAC, July 27, 2017. Photo: Ben McKeown.

 

Two years ago, Bill T. Jones brought the first segment of a planned trilogy to the American Dance Festival; last year he brought part two, and this year, the full trilogy is having its debut as a completed whole, on three successive nights. On July 27th, the DPAC saw the return of Analogy/Dora: Tramontane.

Since 2015, Dora has tightened up a lot, and this performance was very good. Some of the baffling textual repetitions have been removed, and some of the trickier microphone hand-offs, but more importantly, the elocution and vocal expressiveness of the dancers has  improved immeasurably, rendering the stories much more powerful and making it easier to see the dancing and understand its language. What hasn’t changed is the work’s cool tone. It’s not about feelings or emotional response, it is about the facts and mysteries, about self-generated action and fate (all that we cannot control or order). For a fuller description of Dora, please see my previous review.

Tonight, July 28, will see the much anticipated return of last year’s second trilogy section, Analogy/Lance: Pretty AKA the Escape Artist. This was one of the best dances in last year’s festival, and I’ve been thinking about it all year. High recommended. See my review of last year’s show here.

Saturday night (7 pm), the final puzzle piece will hit the stage–the ADF commissioned Analogy/Ambros: The Emigrant. Lance certainly modified understanding of Dora; I would guess Ambros will further clarify Jones’ ideas. This will be the final performance of the 2017 ADF season.

 

 

ADF: Coming Up June 23-27

Thresh (Part I) 2016

Lucas Melfi and Rachael Mehaffey in an earlier performance of Natalie Marrone’s Thresh, which will be the opening act in Reynolds June 23-24. Photo: Alec Himwich.

 

The American Dance Festival continues to highlight North Carolina connections in this 40th season in the state. On Friday and Saturday the 23rd and 24th, Natalie Marrone’s company The Dance Cure will open for Bill Young/Colleen Thomas & Co. in Reynolds Theater. Marrone’s work was shown in the combined ADF/NC Dance Festival program four years ago.  Young was raised in Durham, but has always worked in New York: this is the company’s ADF debut. They will perform Young’s Interleaving, which cuts four earlier dances into thirds and recombines the sections so that there are four beginnings, four middles and four ends laminated into one arc. It’s an interesting way to mess with time perception, weighting the time-frame of the collected stories more heavily than the time flow-through of each story, and rather cinematic in concept. The piece is 30 years old, but the artistic penchant for taking things apart and putting them together differently never goes out of style.

Natalie Marrone and The Dance Cure won their stage time in an ADF competition for North Carolina choreographers earlier this year. They were chosen from 18 entrants from around the state who submitted video of works up to 15 minutes long. Marrone’s 10-minute duet Thresh will be danced by Rachael Mehaffey and Lucas Melfi, both of whom were seen recently in Renay Aumiller’s boneGlow.

Marrone lives in Chapel Hill and teaches part-time in the Duke Dance program. We spoke by phone earlier this week, when I asked her about the challenges of making and presenting contemporary dance in this area. “There are many opportunities to present a dance that has already been made,” she said dryly. “Funding sources are geared for production, not process.”

The process takes time, and time is expensive. The choreographer needs time to see and consider her ideas embodied by the dancers; she needs time to revise, edit, add–and she needs time to do that again and again. And, she says, “the dancers need time to work with the choreographer,” so that nuance and depth can develop as they come to know and trust each other. “I always want to go deep,” Marrone says. “Before I taught at Duke, it was very expensive to make a dance. And it was hard to find a dedicated space: we don’t need a space for two hours–we need it for six months!”

Marrone has worked on Thresh on and off since January, 2016, and in it she continues to combine her interests in vernacular dance styles and her own family history with a contemporary dance vocabulary. There’s a good descriptive piece about the dance by Susan Broili in the Herald-Sun.

Alex Escalante17

Bill Young/Colleen Thomas & Co. make their ADF debut with the revival of Interleaving, a 30-year-old work–that mined their own previous work. Photo: Alex Escalante.

 

Starting Saturday the 24th, Seattle artist Jody Kuehner, in her stage persona, Cherdonna Shinatra, will bring us some playful-serious West Coast attitude in her first ADF appearance. Actually, Kuehner has been to ADF before, when she danced in Mark Haim’s wonderful This Land is Your Land at the Nasher in 2013. But Cherdonna is about to burst upon us for the first time with Clock That Mug or Dusted.

We–Jody and I–spent an hour talking this morning, sitting outside Joe Van Gogh, where her silky short pink hair looked amazing against a backdrop of purple thistles in the sprawly little pollinator garden by the Broad Street curb. Kuehner identifies herself as queer, and in her performance persona she indulges in an extreme version of “hyper-femininity:” Cherdonna is an performance art drag queen. “‘Queer’ has become more of an expansive identifier,” she told me. “It’s associated with a value system of gender fluidity. It’s not about reproduction; its about partnership.”

We discussed the persistence of rigid gender expectations, and the current groundswell of bold gender fluidity, and how feminist art and action have and have not changed in the decades since the early female body artists made their radical messes, taking “the personal is political” to its artistic limit.

Like these earlier performance artists, Cherdonna’s on a mission. She wants us to free ourselves from inequalities of expectation, inequalities in what’s required and what’s allowed in expression of self. She wants equality all across the gender spectrum, equality under law and under social code. She’s the Notorious RBG* of performance art. But unlike RBG, who is cloaked but not masked and who must work for equality of the sexes in a clear framework, Cherdonna can do as she damn well pleases, no edges, no boundaries, and under her mask of make-up, she is pleased to communicate about the freedom of choice to live as you will.

Expect excess. Expect talking. Expect expressive movement, body slathering and what Kuehner calls “live painting” (the results of which will be collected and used in the next section of this ongoing performance work, one great, bright, brittle all togetherness) Expect intimacy. “I want people to be with,” Kuehner told me. “I like these intimate spaces.” In the flash of a smile, Cherdonna appeared. “Cherdonna’s philosophy is–we’re all in this together.”

LouDaprilePhoto_HIGHRES

Cherdonna Shinatra will be getting messy in 6 performances of Clock that Mug or Dusted, in her ADF debut, at the Living Arts Collective. Photo: Lou Daprile.

 

The Living Arts Collective is very small. You probably want to have a ticket before going. If you can get there without a car to park, all the better for you.

*”At the core of Ruth Ginsburg’s lifelong project is the conviction that there should be no separate spheres for men and women in the eyes of the law, and that distinctions based on what “most” men or women do, on the choices that “most” of them make, is an obstacle to full legal equality.” Linda Greenhouse, writing in the New York Times 6/22/17.

Orbiting in the Outer Reaches

carley static face

Carley McCready in the cosmic static. Rehearsal photo courtesy of Rabble and Twine.

 

I was thrilled to received a press release from DIDA, Durham Independent Dance Artists, giving information on a new work NOT about self-identity, group identity or activism–but about something really big, way too big: The Mesoplanets orbiting far, far away. This one-night-only event occurred May 6, at the Living Arts Collective, and while it did not fulfill its potential, The Mesoplanets was a strong and consistently engaging debut into the arena of full-length staged works by Rabble & Twine.

Rabble and Twine co-founders, Luke Selden and Anna Seagrave, recently of Providence, RI, met in graduate school at Mills College (Oakland, CA), where they began merging their arts. Selden makes music and video; Seagrave makes dances. For this journey into the fascinations of space, in particular of those little planets that get no respect, Selden and Seagrave brought together another half-dozen dancers and four “noise makers,” including Allen Anderson with whom Selden had studied music at UNC as an undergrad, and Ellis Anderson of No One Mind–together their synth-duo is called sfm. There was also the one-named violinist Morgan, in a mask, and recorded speech by Helene Rosenbluth.

There was video background with wry voice-overs by Selden; one short side of the stage was banked by sound gear and musicians and a tiny “wing” for the dancers. The audience occupied the other two sides of the rectangle, and those on the long side, facing the video, would have had a much more complete experience of the work than I did from the short side, from which one couldn’t really watch the video while watching the dancers, choreographed by Anna Seagrave. The work’s three acts–The Known, The New World, and The Void–comprised nine dances, and one purely musical segment. The Mesoplanets is a very ambitious work, serious and sweetly humorous, and while it could use a little tightening, overall it was captivating. There was remarkably little dross and some standout moments among the several strong movement sections, and the music was intriguing, even mesmerizing, throughout–though especially compelling in Act II. Although I couldn’t give the video the attention it deserved, I could tell that its rhythms and rather magisterial pacing were key to the overall work’s coherence and sense of long journeying into the far unknown.

As a group, Seagrave’s dances investigated the characteristics of various mesoplanets, and of the people who dream of them. There was a great deal of emphasis on orbits and orbiting, which was strikingly effective in a kind of cat’s cradle dance for the ensemble and two long ropes. This piece went well beyond clever, into elegance and beauty, as it caught and spun the dancers in intersecting elliptical orbits–like the planets, always in motion but never free to leave their delineated paths. Anna Seagrave, Carley McCready and Aijia Nicole Bryant stood out among the dancers for their verve and elasticity. It was particularly nice to see McCready and Seagrave together, for the contrasts. McCready is small, lithe and sports a brown bob; Seagrave is taller, blonde and due to give birth in July. It was fascinating to see how differently the same movement sequences express from the varying bodily states.

The varying abilities of the dancers, however, were not always a benefit, and dragged down some of the larger dances, and there was a real problem with the recorded voice-overs. The sounded like they’d been recorded on a phone, by people without voice training; the volume was inadequate throughout, and sometimes the voice was covered completely by the music. If the spoken content is meant to be an equal partner with the music, visuals and dance, it needs some technical assistance.

According to Seagrave, Saturday’s performance was her last before her baby is due. But look for Seagrave and Selden/Rabble & Twine, perhaps in DIDA’s next season. They are welcome additions to Durham’s dance scene, and it will be very interesting to see what changes in Seagrave’s work with motherhood. In the meantime, we get to find that out about Renay Aumiller, now returned from her maternity leave (twins!). She will be presenting her new work, boneglow, at the Living Arts Collective June 2-4 as the DIDA season continues. Three shows only in that small space, don’t wait. Tickets on her website.

 

aijia denver

Denver Carlstrom and Aijia Nicole Bryant during rehearsal for the glow-stick storm segment. Rehearsal photo courtesy of Rabble and Twine.

 

Bamboo Wind

An Evening of Dance, Sculpture & Photography

mhdekm

A topnotch WordPress.com site

peter harris, tapestryweaver

TAPestry And DESIgn

Gilbert and Sullivan's "Thespis" & "Trial by Jury" -- Director's Blog

a countdown to the next performance, October 12-15, 2017

Backstrap Weaving

My weaving , my indigenous teachers, my inspiration, tutorials and more........

Social Justice For All

Working towards global equity and equality

Not At Home In It

collections/connections

inkled pink

warp, weave, be happy!

warpologynotufos

Projects finished or in process by the Warpology studio

Peggy Osterkamp's Weaving Blog

"Weaving should be fun!"

SHUTTLE WORKS STUDIO

Studio Life of a Weaver, Spinner, Dyer

This Day in North Carolina History

The people and places of the Tar Heel state day by day.

Linda Frye Burnham

Laissez les bons temps rouler

Art Menius

Roots Music, Culture, and Social Change

Mae Mai

Boldly going where no cellist has gone before...

The Upstager

All the world's an upstage.

Literary Life in Italy

Looking at Italy through literature

The Five Points Star

Cultural criticism, news, schmooze and blues radiating from Durham, NC

%d bloggers like this: