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Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States

I am a dancer with Minneapolis based James Sewell Ballet, a small, contemporary ballet company. I also choreograph independently.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Home Movies - a review

The five performers of Everett Dance Theatre were earnest and sincere in their presentation of Home Movies, a compilation and accumulation of non-linear personal stories accompanied by visual images and dances/gestures around the themes of family and memory. Despite the non-linear nature of the piece, it was very straightforward and even dated in feeling; it was a little odd to see them in the setting of the Walker Out There series, known for it’s experimental edge.

Nevertheless the piece managed to disarm the audience. As the title implies, each performer brings with them actual photographs and/or film footage of their lives, their childhoods in particular, which we view on giant screens that scroll up and down as needed. They weave their visual stories with narration and movement, at times to touching effect. The piece opens with a dance sequence, intermingled and effortless in it’s ensemble partnering. As their stories unfold, performers group and re-group to serve the story, fading into and out of focus. Transitions were flawless as we were led from film to dance and back.

Sokeo Ros, an endearing performer, offered fine movement juxtaposition as he occasionally broke into breakdance sequences amid the fluidity of much of the other movement. His deadpan style was needed against the sometimes campy and too performative expressions of the others.

There were moments when the piece reminded me of what kids do: put on shows for the grown-ups after dinner. There was a playfulness that was at times cloying but ultimately was effective at representing the themes set forth.

Perhaps the most poetic moment was Aaron Jungels’ (co-founder) spliced together film of sequences of foreign films that his film professor father would show his kids. Aaron’s comments read like subtitles below the images, like a kid’s journal entries: “Bergman was creepy…” To have uttered the words would have ruined the image, it was after all about film.

Every person’s story is a foreign film to the rest of us. We do our best to keep up with the subtitles and have occasional moments of overlapping experiences. This piece seemed to ultimately be about getting one’s story out there and letting it bump up against and intersect with the others. In the end we are left with our memories. Often tragic moments thankfully turn funny (like peeing in school). Sometimes tragedy remains so and etches itself upon our faces. The final images of the piece, ones we’ve seen before, remind us that history repeats itself.


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