Archive for August, 2013

Judson Church is Ringing In Harlem

Manhattan. 1963. Two major dance revolutions were taking place. Worlds apart, but only a few blocks from each, the voguing phenomenon was in full swing uptown, while the post-modern dancers of down-town were exploring their own form of movement.

Judson Church is Ringing in Harlem (also with two alternative titles) asks the question: what if? What if a voguing dancer from Harlem was to travel down and dance with the post-modernists? What is a classical modern dancer were to take the subway uptown?

After all, both dance styles rely heavily on improvisation and discovering unusual ways to move using a simple set of base poses/movements. So what would happen?

This concept is super cool, but unfortunately New York-based choreographer Trajal Harrell doesn’t seem to totally live up to the clever concept he has set out for himself. Three young male dancer dressed in black robes and sneakers improvise vocally and physically while pop music of today (Adele, Duffy etc.) blasts through the speakers. There are some genuinely funny moments when they blend the ultra funky cat-walk style voguing with more ‘serious’ modern movement, but overall the work was a little disappointing, considering such a strong idea.

Day 15 – Tanja Liedtke Fellowship

Today I’m thinking about beyond the piece, what the audience will experience. It’s all about setting tone and mood from the second they enter the room.

Day 11 – Tanja Liedtke Fellowship

It’s time to bring out the paper! Paper is the best. Paper makes you see straight. The piece begins to take shape…

Day 14 – Tanja Liedtke Fellowship

Filling holes and adding details. Today is time to start using to-do lists. My favourite time ever! (No seriously, my favourite time ever)

Day 13 – Tanja Liedtke Fellowship

A expected visit from a VIP turns into an unexpected visit from 5 VIPs! Did someone say ‘preview’?

Day 12 – Tanja Liedtke Fellowship

Get excited. It’s time to start thinking about design…and going shopping.

Drums and Digging

I admit, it was in French with German subtitles, so absolutely ALL of the text got lost for me (because I don’t speak either of those languages!) but that wasn’t the only reason I didn’t connect with Drums and Digging.

Faustin Linekula, with the help of 3 singers and 3 other dancers (he is a dancer himself) explored the idea of going back to his roots, travelling to his remote childhood village to the ruined palaces of former dictator Mobutu Sese Seko. One question fuelled the research: How can Faustin and his travel companions continue and stand up in the middle of ruins and chaos and keep searching for new dreams…

However the actual result was somewhat underwhelming, with a lot of emphasis on slow walking or shuffling, which, while energetically interesting, got old pretty quickly.

During the performance, a structure is clumsily put together, taking an enourmous amount of time while little else is visually happening on stage. Eventually it is complete, only to be stood up, and not referred to for the rest of the evening.

And what an evening it was! A little over 2 hours, I feel Linekula could have edited some things down to make a much more powerful and impacting piece.

On the plus side, the African singing was astoundingly good, in fact all the vocal work (even though I couldn’t understand it!) was very strong, and a joy to listen to.

Day 10 – Tanja Liedtke Fellowship

It’s the last thing I need right now. To get sick.