Touchy Subjects
Photo: David Papas

Touchy Subjects

Scott Wells and Dancers

Scott Wells & Dancers
Dance Mission. San Francisco
Nov. 4-6, 11-13, 2016

“Touchy Subjects”
…”Keith Hennessy told Scott Wells that he didn’t like the gay joke in Wells dance. Scott said, okay. Let’s make a show.”

The show they made includes themselves and seven of the best ‘new/now’ dancers in the Bay Area who are listed as collaborators/performers. They are (in upside down alphabetical order): Shira Yaziv, Miriam Wolodarski, Megan Lowe, Kaitlin Guerin, Sebastian Grubb, James Graham, Jose Abad.

The production involves much lively and intense contact improvisation, some time on a suspended swing, some texts read upright and some upside-down and in the air, and a general sense of play and enjoyment.

The essential question asked and answered in movement sequences of all sorts, holding, embracing, kissing, rolling, touching, balancing, supporting and general cavorting, is “Do you like this? Or this?” These are intimate questions that evoke responses from women and men in many roles. The answers are demonstrated and the audience learns that almost all contact is liked, and if not, how and what.

Some sequences are carried out slowly enough to be carefully observed. Some move by so fast it is too much to be seen. The solo work of James Graham is notable. He is a consummate dancer; his every move is a joy.

Three women participate in a ‘hand dance’ in which they place their hands carefully in available space. Eventually they rise and add the whole body.
Keith Hennessy is usually part of the group and he is still a wonder. Scott stands aside but enters to assist. Toward the end, a series of sculptured ‘blanket events’ take place. A group forms a shape (on the floor, upside-down, very curled, very extended.) Others cover the group with blankets. The shape dissolves. As with many other events in this show, it feels like great fun. It is all very well designed and beautifully executed.

Music was provided by Lully, Miklataklitim, ESG, AGF, Schubert, Monica Group, and The Doors. Lighting design was accomplished by Allen Wilner

Joanna G. Harris

San Francisco ,
Joanna Gewertz Harris, Ph.D, is a dance teacher, historian, reviewer, and lecturer. She taught dance and theater at UCB, UCSC, Cal State Hayward and Sonoma, and is a frequent contributor to scholarly journals and books, most recently to H'Doubler, and Legacy in Dance Education, both from Cambria Press. Beyond Isadora, Bay Area Dancing 1915-1965 , her book documenting Bay Area history (Price $40. + 2.00 shipping) is available from her web site and her e mail,