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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.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Engagement

Steph and I have 2 shows left of “small aida”, my piece in this year’s Fringe Festival. It’s been (yet again) the time of my life.

I am compelled, however, after having just read a few new audience reviews about the piece, to respond here. (Audience reviews can be found @ fringefestival.org.) First, let me include the reviews I am referring to:

"Not entertained
" by chas jensen
I rate all performances I attend by a "was I entertained" criteria and this one failed to do that.
I approached this show with high hopes because of the pre-show hype, the venue and the dancers.
As I sat there trying to figure out what was going on while watching standard dance moves, I remembered I don't like to sit there trying to figure out what is going on.
During the performance, I was reminiscing about the fringe show, "Buckets and Tap Shoes", at the same location and wanted that experience. That was entertainment.
All I can say is, if the performance doesn't speak to me, and I have to strain to interpret the message, I'm working too hard. And that is what I try to get away from.

"Disappointing" 
by Richard Heise
Did not live up to her 2007 Fringe performance. No matter how symbolic I don't find walking across a stage, to music, and placing a small figurine on the floor dance. The performance was flat and almost boring. I have loved Penelopes works in the past but was not impressed with this one.

Ok, it’s me again. First off, let me start by saying that of course folks are entitled to their opinion, and I’m happy that there is a forum where that can be given. That being said, I also get to respond…

To Chas,

I appreciate your being upfront about your criteria in judging whether or not a show is good. Clearly, you were not entertained.

I do not dance to entertain. I dance and make work because it is how I engage with the world. I share this with audiences and hope to engage their attention. If an audience is entertained, that is icing on the cake, it is not my motivation or my objective.

It is grossy unfair to compare my work to that of (the indeed magnificent) “Buckets and Taps”. All I can say to that is: apples and oranges. One work of art should never be compared to another.

Which brings me to…

To Richard,

Please don’t compare my work against itself. Again I say…apples and oranges. If artists lived with the expectation (from themselves or others) that their newest creation had to live up to some invisible (and subjective!) pre-established code of merit, excellence, whatever one wants to say, we would all be stymied, ALL of us, artists and audiences alike.

And no, it is not dance to walk across the stage to music and place a figurine on the floor. It is, however, dance/theater, and it propells our story forward. Dance can be many, many things. That moment is justified given that we are “dancing” 95% of the show, just the two of us, for 45 minutes.

Fortunately, I believe in this piece. I am thrilled that we have 2 shows left. I wish I had one tonight. Instead I will see six other shows and not compare them.

Thanks Chas and Richard, for reinforcing my belief in “small aida”, for seeing it, and for giving a shit enough to write about it. Seems like engagement to me.

2 Comments:

Blogger deb said...

Good responses to those reviews.

Your show was exquisite.

I loved the story-within-a-story and how it tied the parts into one. The two of you dance together in a way that's quite extraordinary.

We've seen M. Barishnikov a couple times in non-dance things, and I'm struck by the mindful intentionality of how he moves. Every single gesture is alert and *right*. It looks effortless, and must be part of who he is. Nothing is thrown away.

You move that same way.

We see a lot of dance, and I think you're one of the only other dancers I've watched who has that same quality of mindful movement.

Opera is the form I tend to avoid, but "small aida" worked for me. I came home and did a Wiki to learn the plot, and now I'm doubly glad to have seen it as dance.

Thank you.

10:52 AM  
Blogger Renegade Eye said...

I saw the show today.

I was never a good dancer, but I've been around the dance scene, since the days of Loyce and Nancy being the only dance teachers who were over 30 years old.

I came out of the theater, feeling I saw choreography from someone who will be a major force in the dance community. Everything was right, great modern dance technique, storytelling, acting, costumes, music etc.

What do your critics want? Breakdancing and gymnastics?

12:19 AM  

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