I’ve seen so much interesting, exciting work recently that I feel like I could make a solid year-end list, but it’s still early April! An abundance of riches.
I’ve been thinking about relationships in the dance field, and the ties that bind us together. I never met Carrie Wood, a lighting designer who passed away recently, but news of her death moved me because I know that she mattered to people I love and admire. I think there’s something about relationships in this line of work, and it’s wrapped up in embodiment, and so I was fascinated by how this theme was picked up in some recent work. In the last few weeks, I’ve seen three performances in Philadelphia that highlighted relationships between two makers, and each of them blew me away.
Show No Show was a collaboration between Gabrielle Revlock and Sasha Frolov, performed at FringeArts in Philadelphia. Gabi is based on the East Coast in the US and Sasha is based in Russia. The two met at a residency in the Catskills, and much of the energy came from their differences. Cultural differences seemed evident even when there was no speech, but it was clear there were layers of similarities as well–a delight in playfulness, a shared sense of humor, a willingness to be intimate with each other. I sat in front of a couple who were laughing in delight for much of the show, and adding their own soft narration; somehow it was another pleasureable element of the experience, rather than a distraction. I had the sense that I could write dozens of pages about the hour in the theater and still not cover it all.
On March 12, I was fortunate to get to observe an ‘informance’ led by former Trisha Brown dancers Lisa Kraus and Eva Karczag. I’ve loved several events that I’ve gotten to see as part of the year-long Trisha Brown retrospective that Lisa has put together. I’ve gotten a sense of the artist and how it felt to be a part of her work. At the informance at Temple’s Conwell Theater, Lisa and Eva talked and danced, demonstrated and disagreed (gently). It’s been so satisfying to hear how the work felt/feels from a dancer’s perspective, inside of the thing. Some words and quotes that stood out to me: “fun, funny, exciting”, Lisa exclaiming, “it’s just so fun!”, her work being like a book in a language that not everyone could read, that TB wanted everything to look like it was being discovered in the moment, that it’s about being alive. The relationship between these two women who had danced together in the company and obviously had a deep rapport, developed over many years, was so beautiful.
And last weekend, I found myself happily nestled in the warm brown space of Mascher to see Jumatatu Poe and Shannon Murphy’s work in Rhythm and Race. The two have run idiosynCrazy productions for a number of years. Rhythm and Race included two works by each choreographer, and one collaborative piece, titled Jumannon Purphy or All Work and No Money, which explored their history as friends and collaborators. This piece helped the split bill feel cohesive, and enabled the feel of a conversation between the five works on the program. I was mesmerized for much of the show, particularly in Shannon’s work for five dancers, Feet Amass, and in Jumatatu’s duet with Jermone Donte Beacham, Let ‘im Move You: This is a Success. The structure these two long-time collaborators put forward seems a promising one to me, in which new voices are welcomed, even as history is honored.