Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Chunky thoughts

Chunky Move's I Want to Dance Better at Parties at the Joyce last night. While I wasn't overly impressed with the Australian dance company's evening-length piece, choreographed by artistic director Gideon Obarzanek, a couple of things are worth pondering. (Keep in mind that I do not pretend to be an expert in dance; I enjoy it as I enjoy any art that requires me to use a minimum of two senses; a brain workout usually is an extra-super-duper bonus.)

I Want to Dance Better at Parties is based on—and integrates—interviews Obarzanek conducted with five men of various backgrounds, who talked about their relationship with dance, from clogging to ballroom. And that relationship isn't always easy, leading to the representation of "bad" dancing by people who obviously are "good" dancers. The representation of ineptitude on stage usually is tricky because the faking tends to be glaringly obvious. In this case, Obarzanek cleverly got around it by limiting the intentionally awkward movement and focusing on the visual representation of the men's personalities as well as their interaction with their bodies and those of others. Not sure he succeeded, but the attempt was interesting.

I also loved watching one particular dancer (I believe it was Antony Hamilton) because it's always interesting to see how short men move on stage, specifically when it comes to interacting with women and other (usually taller) men. The results often seem to involve either intentional comedic distance or bravado. Hamilton eschewed both.

Speaking of senses working overtime, I just got notice of Meet the Composer's forthcoming commissions. Several look exciting, including Eve Beglerian and David Neumann's Feed Forward, a dance based on popular sports; My Name Is Blackbird, a dance solo for Molly Shanahan scored by, among others, violinist and whistler extraordinaire Andrew Bird; and Phil Kline and Wally Cardona's Intime, which will explore "the dramatic potential of a full-size high-school marching band." As a huge fan of marching bands, I am thrilled. Even better, the piece will be workshopped at the Myrna Loy Center in Helena, MT, next year. Any city with an arts center named after Myrna Loy ("Montana's first lady of film") deserves a visit.

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