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November 6, 2011 § 2 Comments

Sundays are the best thing in the world now because I don’t have to do anything. Oh, I have work that needs to be done and I have my quotas, let’s not forget those, but I don’t have the necessity to do those things. This can be compared, favourably, to the past two days, were until I fell asleep Saturday night, I had only been off my feet for ten hours, including sleep. A day of rest ain’t such a bad thing.

Updates:

1. My submission to MOD2 was not accepted, as I learned on Friday morning. C’est la vie, so ist das leben. Something else might happen with it, which is good, but I’m not too bothered it wasn’t accepted. Writing, as my actor friend helpfully commiserated, is a rejection-filled business. Pretty much the only thing I can do is keep writing.

I’ll put it up in the Completed Stories section, so take a look at it if you’d like. I quite like the characters in it, even if my ending line is a little wonky.

Oh, and none of you guessed it right. Tsk, you should know I care little for auto-erotic asphyxiation.

2. One reason why I’m not going to run the story as a feature is that I have too many stories to follow right now! I could work steadily on the ones I do for the blog without even cracking the projects I have that I’m not showing you. I think a little more consistency might be ea good idea, so expect to only see one story at a time for awhile.

3. Dancing friend Irvin asked me to write a little bit about the show he was in on Friday. Seeing as he bought me the ticket (*coughIhavesolittlemoneycough*), I feel obligated to acquiesce.The joke’s on him because I would have done it anyways! But now, as part of our deal, I get to be completely honest. Hah! I’m like Ayn Rand now! “It’s not my fault I’m a dick, blame objective reality!” Fair warning: I’m neither dancer nor critic, so I’ll simply try and be appropriate.

 

Review time!

The show was called “After Now”. No, I don’t know what that means. Remember: titles are not my bag. Sadly, due to schedule constraints, the show is already over, but what the hell. You’re not being held down and forced to read my blog. And if you are, I would recommend you call 911 rather than read my review.

There were actually three pieces performed: “(re)play” and “(re)form”, performed by the Invictus Dance Project and choreographed by the lovely Kelly Gammie, and “the things I love”, choreographed by the equally-lovely Melissa Hart.

First, and most damning, there was a mistake/problem with the programs. “the things I love” was written down as part 1, and appeared intended to be performed first. It was not. I’m going to be harsh here, but that smacks of an amateurish mistake. There may have been some backroom problem that necessitated the switch, and for that I sympathize. The switch, however, can’t be overlooked. It happened and that’s that.

 

(re)play

To save space, I’m going to link to their facebook page rather than name the performers off individually. This piece featured 7 dancers moving across a very confined space. The group choreography was well done, particularly when all 7 dancers moved about seemingly at random, but this piece had a strong narrative element to it that seemed forced.

For example, mid-way through the piece the dancers drew back, away from a recorded voice that told of economic problems and all that jazz. They collapsed, and correct me Irvin if the dancer is wrong, then Nathlineen Duong performed a solo dance. It ended with a primal scream that surprised the audience and really captured the feeling of helplessness against powerful, outside economic forces.

Which he then repeated several times as he “woke” up the other dancers, diluting the scream into nothing.

Remember the kicker? That scream was the kicker, and much like being punched in the stomach, you only want it to happen once. The repetition of the scream, as well as the choreography afterwards where the dancers “played” games on stage, felt horribly inserted. I saw the strings on the back of the acrobats, I saw the cards fall out of the magician’s pocket. It was also not helped that the dancers, though they danced their hearts out, were obviously not yet professional. The heart was in this show, but the technique wasn’t, and it was unfortunately clear that heart was not enough. In writing terms, the story idea and characters can be great but if the meat-and-potatoes of the writing isn’t, then, well, as they say in RPG-making, “ideas are cheap”.

 

(re)form

This piece featured mostly the same dancers with the notable (and not just because I know him) addition of Irvin Chow. I point him out specifically for two reasons: one, because he was the central dancer of the piece, and two, because he blew away everyone else.

The piece featured a group of people that at first try to hold Irvin back from escaping, and then through the exchange with the other dancers, the group is reformed into something new. Here, Gammie’s choreography shines. She is very good at choreographing groups, and when she has a great team, they flow together like oil. This one featured a central dancer working within a group, and that played to both of her apparent strengths.

However, when I say Irvin blew the others away, I mean that he was obviously far better than the others. He danced with grace and a fluid motion that the others lacked (it should be noted he has finished his BFA (OR IS SO CLOSE THAT HE BETTER WELL) while some of the others were still in training). His kicks were higher. His slides were cleaner. He was the point the others danced around.

Maybe that was the intent. Maybe.

 

“things I love” 

This piece featured performances from Irvin, Melissa Hart, and Brandi Ferreira. They acted out favourite child-hood scenes through dance before a video segment showed the dancers actually doing those scenes in real life. Half of it was complex, technical dancing, while the other half was pure showmanship.

Irvin was up first, mimicking a jungle gym. Here, he got to play as a monkey while still showing off some great, and technically proficient, dancing. It was fun to watch, but also impressive. I’ll just say it here: the choreography for this piece was excellent because it showed exactly what it intended to. No fuzzy narrative and no unclear segments. They danced, we understood. Das ende.

Melissa then performed a scene that, at first, was neither technically proficient nor clear. She had a hell of a time and acted her heart out (the audience forgot etiquette.I’ve not seen a modern dance audience laugh that much), but I was completely baffled about what she was trying to portray. However, once I saw the video where it showed her being an absolute terror in a department show, the segment became genius. I saw the little girl she was pretending to be running through the store, trying on clothes and scattering shoes like a little hellion. Sure, the dancing wasn’t that impressive, but the showmanship was.

Brandi swam. No, don’t misunderstand me. I’m not referring to what she was trying to show off, nor am I suggesting there was a pool of water on stage. She swam without water. It was amazing.

The last two parts, which featured all three performers, were fun and well-done, and the only criticism I have is that they weren’t terribly technically demanding. Irvin pointed out that these were intended to be show pieces, but I countered that on the front of the program it’s called a “Contemporary dance show”. In any case, watching Irvin pretend to be a light switch while two dancers play-wrestled like little girls was wonderful. The audience could not stop laughing. Finally, they danced out a flashlight battle in the dark. I loved that scene as much as I disliked it. One the one hand, the choreography was amazing, and doubly so because it was in the dark. On the other hand, we saw damn little of it, because it was in the dark. So it goes, I suppose.

Oh, and I forgot the scene where they danced like the little blobs of jelly in a lavalamp. It was amusing, erotic, and weird all in one, and made me wonder why more straight men aren’t involved in dance.

In the end, I would say that this would have been totally worth your entertainment dollar. Yes, it showed the cracks that are so common in amateur anything (I dare you to find some on my perfect, perfect website), but if you went there expecting perfection you deserve a smack on the head. If you went there looking to watch dancers dance, then you would have had a good time.

Even if they didn’t serve the cookies I made for them. Those bastards.

 

N.B. – Owing to length, I’ll end here. But I still want to celebrate the release of Ceremonials and Bad as Me, two important albums to me. To do that, I’m going to link to two wonderful songs from those albums. I’ll probably review/talk about them later, but you should go and get these as soon as you can.

Go. I’ll wait.

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§ 2 Responses to News News News

  • ghadzilla says:

    sweet review. I sent it to the choreographer, hope that’s ok!!! If not…well, too bad your writing is being spread.

    Also, the show order (which should have been announced at the beginning by the dude talking) was because of a technical hiccup with the projector. However you are correct in it being a bit amateur, but shit happens! Also, we liked this new show order more in the end.

    And stop spreading the secret to straight men!! God, it’s people like you that are the reason I can’t pick up girls at gay clubs anymore!

    Also, I might have said “show piece” or….something but I would like to rescind my comment. Show piece isn’t a good way to put it, simply put, you don’t need things to be technically demanding to make good contemporary dance. It’s using certain tools to evoke emotions, ideas, etc. For me a “show piece” would be more like….a lot of tricks simply for the sake of having people go like, oh hey this guy can do a triple gainer back flip off a shark’s back.

    So I’m countering your counter of it saying “contemporary dance show” on the program with the question of what that means, does it mean a required amount of pretty pirouettes with some dark atmospheric music, low level lighting and earth tone clothes? Or can it mean so much more? Because it was dance, it was contemporary and it was a show. RIPOSTE! heee-YAH!

    • Calamanas says:

      MY PETARD SHALL REMAIN UNHOISTED UPON ME.

      I’m not getting into a discursive spiral with you, I’ll only say that I expected to see more physically demanding work, rightly or wrongly. I admit that I never thought of it in the way that you mentioned, but the prior pieces I’ve seen tended to explore more difficult movement.

      Both are legitimate, but I would say that difficult movement is far, far more interesting to watch.

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