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Flash Review, 8-16:
By Asimina Chremos
Copyright 2000 Asimina Chremos
SEATTLE -- Hello, Dance
Insiders! Asimina here reporting from the Seattle Festival of Alternative
Dance and Improvisation. I know Ben-Itzak is having a fit because
my report is late... but hell! In typical festival fashion I've
been participating in mind-blowing workshops eight hours a day,
seen some provoking performance, gone drinking, gotten very little
sleep, and slept in a different place every night. Taken a lot of
busses out to far-flung Ballard and back, fueled myself with the
ever-flowing river of espresso running through the Emerald City....
I'm here at the Aurafice Internet Cafe and I have about 40 minutes
to record my thoughts before running back to dance in the divine
Kathleen Hermesdorf's tech class.
The SFADI brings together
an impressive community of artists and students, all committed to
the various permutations of current explorations in body-based performing
arts. All the workshops and performances take place in the generous,
welcoming caverns of the Odd Fellows building, where the Velocity
Studios and the Freehold Theater are housed.
In the Student Performance
last night, I was impressed with the elan, joie de vivre, and creativity
I saw from the youthful participants. From a simple walking score
for a large group, to a soulful airy quartet by two women dancers
and two men on drum and voice, there was a level of playfulness,
awareness, and depth that contrasted so wildly to the type of contrived
modern dance one can see coming out of college level dance departments.
Several solos combining dance and speaking were powerful, either
for their humor and sarcasm or their honesty and fearlessness.
I saw two Faculty Programs.
This Arising, organized by the shamanistic Christina Svane, opened
the 7pm show. I am taking Svane's intensive, studying with her every
day for two hours. Her work is deeply rooted in her Tibetan Buddhist
practice. She has challenged all of us to perceive our work in a
context of spirituality, of devotion and service. How wonderful,
scary, and disorienting for me. She's teaching for Ishmael Houston-Jones,
who could not come because his mother passed away recently. A shout-out
of love and compassion to Ish! We miss him.
Svane sang and played
the harmonium stage right, Margit Galanter reached long, antennae-like
arms out of the wings to begin her improvised solo. She then appeared
in fishlike sequined green tunic and blue velvet pants, twisting,
falling, and opening her self to space. In fluid, intricate kneels
she expressed power, struggle, and seeking. Nancy Stark Smith and
her famous ponytail later entered, and what can I say about this?
I know that Nancy is primarily a teacher and torchbearer of contact
improvisation, and I found myself watching to see how she puts to
use her skills of intuition and perception to use in a solo performance
context. She's a quiet but certain presence, exploring and showing
what she explores, finding gestures, ideas, and moments, delivering
them as consciously as she can to the attentive audience.
It was fascinating to
watch Nancy Stark Smith, Cathy Caraker, Andrew Marcus, and Kim Epifano
dance together in the Group Contact Improvisation. Epifano brings
speaking and vocalizing into contact, it's a big part of her work
(I took her rockin' Sound Waves class this very morning), and it
makes the dance more playful and communicative. At times, it illuminates
the internal narrative for the audience. The kids in the audience
loved watching the contact dancing.
The final piece on the
programme was Relic, by the local Dappin' Butoh director Joan Laage.
Suspended on an oversize rope ladder in an orange dress that sported
plastic food items on the skirt, she dangled, clowned, and dripped,
dropped, fell from one rung to the next to the floor while some
very upbeat techno music played. Two of her dancers, shirtless in
Japanese-looking pants and cummerbunds, were living demonic advancing
columns on either side. Butoh is just such a good formula for performance.
The white makeup, the moving images.... It usually works very well
for me as a viewer. I didn't have the same transcendent amazement
I once had watching Ko Morobushi, but it was well-crafted. I also
enjoyed Laage's workshop earlier that day, where she turned the
crowded class into starfish, tsunamis, and trees.
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