Walking Distance Dance Festival

FACT/SF & The Foundry

Written by:
Joanna G. Harris
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ODC has sponsored the “Walking Distance Dance Festival” June 2-10 to “offer us the opportunity to experience the juxtaposition of different choreographic voices.” (Quote from program notes by Marie Tollon, ODC Writer-In-Residence.) The pieces are short (usually one-hour works) that have been developed in the last two years and address contemporary issues.

“Platform,”a duet for Burns and Slender-White, was made in response to the album of the same name by Holly Herndon.
The two perform within a square framed by white hangings on four walls on which video excerpts of the dancer’s phrases are projected simultaneously as they are done live. Both display intense concentration, discipline and skill with their movement choices, a limited vocabulary of swings, twists, falls, stretches, and walks.

They allow themselves a period of rest on the floor. Theirs is an exercise in precision and selected limited choice. The performance deserves close watching, but this reviewer asks, “Is this event for others to watch?” or for the dancers to accomplish?

“Deep South” has a deep social message. Ketley, artistic director of The Foundry, has brought contemporary dance to rural communities that have little or no previous exposure. There are previous episodes as part of a trilogy titled “No Hero.” “Deep South” completes the work. The dance is accompanied by a filmic artifact of their traveling interlaced with live performance.

The stage space is divided into sections that correspond to the various episodes encountered. Some dancers narrated the pieces, which, alas, are sometimes too soft to be heard, or too confused to be understood. If dancers speak, they must train to do so. The film sections nicely portray the encounters. It is not clear how the dance episodes reflect back upon those encounters. One section, danced by Katie Faulkner is beautifully performed. Again, this reviewer finds the movement expression very personal and not very communicative, although the subject matter is vital and well intentioned. The dance group consists of Aline Wachsmuth, Katie Faulkner, Maurya Kerr, Natalie Grant, Katie Meyers, Robyn Gerbaz, Manuelito Biag and David Maurice. Those who did the research in the South were Alex Ketley, Miguel Gutierrez, Sarah Woods and Michelle Boulé.

Question: Do rural communities need or find concert modern dance useful? And how? Or is this projection from the dancers?

Joanna G. Harris

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