Monday, February 14, 2011

A Mixed Bag of Dance

Kate Weare's Bright Land
Kali and I attended a contemporary dance performance on Saturday evening featuring two new and relatively small dance companies, Kate Weare and Monica Bill Barnes.  Each company performed one 40-minute-long piece, and each company consisted of four dancers, two women and two men in Weare's company and four women in Barnes'.  Weare's company performed first, offering a composition entitled Bright Land set to a medley of bluegrass revival music.

For the first two-thirds of Bright Land, I was absolutely transfixed, and I imagine that most of the relatively modest audience was, too, because you could have heard a pin drop in silences between the musical pieces.  During this section of Bright Land, all four dancers were on stage at all times, usually dancing ensemble, but sometimes pairing off.  Some of the best parts of the piece showcased the dancers in partnerships marked by surprising, elegant lifts and circlings in service to taut, tango-like dance dynamics.  I found myself thinking, "I could watch these people dance for the rest of the night."

However, as the end of the piece approached, the stage was occupied alternately by only one or the other of the couples, not by all four dancers.  The mysterious electricity generated by the group quickly dissipated for me, so that by the end of the piece I had largely lost interest in what was going on.
Bright Land
Following an intermission, Monica Bill Barnes' company took the stage offering the audience Another Parade.  The dancers all wore turtlenecks and A-line skirts, and used the loose-fitting turtlenecks to tease the audience with reveals of navels and shoulders.  It was all witty, good-natured, tongue-in-cheek fun, but it just didn't hold my attention or interest.  The moves finally became too repetitive and predictable.  The evening culminated with the dancers impressing four hapless audience members to join them onstage, and all gave it a go, but what's the point of such silliness?
Monica Bill Barnes' Another Parade
In terms of full and honest disclosure, I have to report that Kali found the entire evening extremely compelling, and she couldn't understand why I didn't agree.  I told her that the evening was hardly a waste of time - I intensely enjoyed a quarter of the performance - but she took that to mean that I didn't appreciate the show, and that I'm too uptight.  Our local newspaper also gave the performance a glowing review.  I guess I am just too uptight.
Another Parade

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