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Friday, July 18, 2014

Tonight: Dance+ Festival, Part Two

Posted by Jenna Lechner on Fri, Jul 18, 2014 at 5:01 PM

Attention dance-friendly folks of Blogtown (I know there’s at least two of you out there): the Dance+ Festival resumes this week with five new performances, with final shows tonight and tomorrow. If you still don't have weekend plans, consider this. I’ve gone to the Dance+ Festival every year —it started three years ago—and this year has been my favorite. The performances are still a mixed bag, with some head-scratching stuff, but in general this year they seem more sophisticated, less heavy-handed, and they’re questioning ideas about dance in different ways (see: last week’s piece by Todd Barton and artist/animator Paul Clay).

This week I really enjoyed Dylan Wilbur and Zahra Banzi’s performance "Veil," which involves a screen that loops a video of the silhouette of Banzi’s dancing. She dances behind it for a while, then steps out in front of it, and does a duet with her silhouette. It’s very Peter-Pan like; the dance with the screen reminds me a lot of a piece by the Seattle company zoe | juniper, called “A Crack in Everything,” if anyone was lucky enough to see that at the TBA Festival in 2011—they use a loop on the screen to get a similar disconcerting, doubling effect.

Zahra Banzi makes like Peter Pan.
  • Jim Lykins
  • Zahra Banzi makes like Peter Pan.


I had a harder time last night with "before the dawn," which is a Butoh piece—a dance form from Japan— but here it is choreographed by Meshi Chavez danced by a very white male and female, which was well done technically, but I've always had a hard time watching people outside of the culture doing a Butoh performance. It's a form so rooted in its culture—e.g. the horrors of the atomic bomb and post-war Japan—I personally can’t understand someone outside of that culture adopting it and claiming it entirely. I don’t know what you’re adding to the conversation of that dance form, and it’s not something rooted in your native culture; I don't get it, and it comes across as affectatious to me. I'm sure others have different opinions.

The show closes with "Radiation City," by radical child and Kara Girod Schuster. It combines video, and humor, and... filibustering, actually. Basically it’s a duet (between Schuster and Alexander Dones) about love—surprise. But the humor in it takes it to unexpected places. The program quotes Kevin Sampsell’s book This Is Between Us. The movement is really playful, and feels reminiscent of a lot of Bodyvox performances (who Shuster has danced with); the costuming is vest and tie for Dones and cocktail dress for Schuster. The only thing that I was a bit confused by was the prop choices, part of which is a waist-high, makeshift white house, that has the words “TAKE ME HOME” scrawled across it, which kind of looks like bloody lettering? Like, dare I say, something from a Manson murder site? This bewildering aspect aside, I enjoyed this piece a lot.

The remainder of shows are tonight and tomorrow, 8pm. Last night's show featured complimentary popsicles, so, cross your fingers for those, and get your tickets here.

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