I walked in with my homegirl at 7:55 to directions – instructions: Choose a group, follow the movement and try to repeat the words you hear. I kicked off my sandals and got to work – trying to flock and mirror and echo/respond. Being a dancer in this community means it’s not that big a risk to copy some homies on the Southern stage, so I tried hard to follow my directions. Still, I cannot remember one phrase or word that I repeated. Very challenging activity, but me and my homegirl* appreciated the outlet for anxious energy. I think it was Jeffrey who finally told me “ok have a seat.” We grabbed our stuff that we had flung down and by the time we found a seat, there was more work happening on stage. I realized that the curtain talk was being given and I had no time to read my program or even orient myself. This was a good place to be as I entered the world of it’s [all] highly personal.
SuperGroup has a dance film where I remember them being very tiny. I felt shrunken down to the size needed to build a tiny shelf and then shot inside of the collective mind of the group like InnerSpace. Once inside the mind, I’m getting buffeted from place to place, text firing at me like synapse in the brain. Bits and pieces jump out and stay out “we do what we can,” “sometimes we don’t,” “this is what we do.” I keep bouncing back and forth between following the text thread like a conversation and just letting the cacophony of voices wash over me like a soundscape. Ah white art. My homegirl said the piece felt very white, like culturally white. I’m always searching for the content I can identify within white art, because I have a lot of white dance/art homies. Like white noise though, this is kind of relaxing, but like eavesdropping through the cubicles at work, this is kind of disturbing. I’m trying to grasp what these words are about – are these empty platitudes, like super general astrology readings? Are they deep insights? Or are they just every possible qualified sentence that can exist?
It is the movement that makes people laugh, draws us in. The snarky gossip, the bored housewife, stoner, wanderer, captain. I always say that I don’t like unison too much, so this piece really put that preference to the test. There were so few moments of unified movement , everything was so individualized. (spoiler alert) I dug using my binocs to zero in on one person at a time. The rare moments of sync were strong and well oiled. I used my binocs like a telescope to make everybody tiny. I liked the way the ensemble would seem to click into place and then just as easily break back into themselves – moving independently but not in isolation. There was a kinetic feeling of connection and moving in concert, even though nobody was doing even close to the same thing. And this group was seriously super. They spoke and orated in accord, while moving, singing, dancing – it even got choral at one moment. And the jumpsuits… the jumpsuits are amazing.
Leslie O’Neill‘s Fortress started with a world created for and by kids. Laura Selle Virtucio and Erika Hansen really managed to convince me of their childlike mentality through movement. So much so that I became unnerved by the possibilities. There were more than a few treacherous moments – movement-wise. There were precarious positions and super-charged couplings that spoke to me of violence. There was such a physical sense of foreboding, my homegirl described it as ‘heavy.’ The physicality reminded me of some less embodied people, and also young people who don’t know their own strength, who are hard on their shoes, who are gangly and unsteady on their feet. My homegirl doesn’t like when adults play kids on stage, and I might be with her on this point. Or maybe I was just unnerved by the way Laura and Erika took it to the darkside on so many occasions.
The environment made me uncomfortable to start – two girls whispering inside a tent. These girls’ friendship started to remind me of the friend I had who called me a n—— one time. We were pretty close but she still took it there. There was a dark edge to the way these two girls did everything, and I began to get a sense of the secret world of childhood that grown-ups are not a part of. Now we all know it exists because we were all children once, yet the dark corners get blown out in this work. I was getting the feeling that these girls were powerful in different ways. One girl was more classic – strong and daring and bossy. The other girl was deeper and had complex ideas and twisted emotions, she was subtle with her power. Now why did these girls feel like they were so connected and had to drag each other in and out of dark places? And like all kids, they were attracted to the dark and the light at the same time. They wanted to be scared and comforted all at the same time. There was much unknown in this piece, and I felt like I didn’t get it. Or I thought I was getting something and then something threw me off that track near the end…
*my homegirl: an amalgam of all the homegirls I talked to throughout the night.
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