Archive for January, 2013

January 27, 2013

Panama Dance Exchange

by ashleyandersondances

Kathy Adams has chronicled Juan Carlos Claudio’s upcoming Panama Dance Exchange for the Salt Lake Tribune (& Dance Magazine). It’s exciting that his outreach effort is extending into a second year and there are a lot of ways to donate to the project. For employees of the University it’s simple to do a payroll deduction in any amount (I did it last year and plan to again), there are also a lot of alternatives ranging from eating dinner at CPK to attending dance events. All are listed in the sidebar of Kathy’s article.

Check it out and share whatever resources you may have. Juan Carlos not only teaches at the U but is a vibrant member of the SLC dance community as a performer for SB Dance and independent choreographers like Ai Fujii Nelson. He’s also co-coordinated RW’s Momentum showing in past years. His efforts here (and there!) are important to the way we see SLC dance.

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January 26, 2013

RDT, I mean, Stephen Brown!

by lovedancemoreguest

Stephen Brown’s SB Dance is presenting another of its “Beast” performances this weekend. I went tonight, and sat in a sold out house where everyone seemed eager to see the choreographer’s collaboration with local band Totem and Tattoo.

The piece opened with an energetic romp to the music of Art Blakey, which introduced the cast. This crew, some new faces, some old, flew through space to land on each other or on large tin foil cushions. They rushed to dress and change clothes amidst the chaos, as if to suggest that some of them had not been quite ready when the show started. It was dry, with a not-quite-slapstick clockwork. I found myself thinking an old RDT favorite many of us will have seen- Shapiro and Smith’s Dance with Army Blankets. These two works are similar in tone and matter-of-factness. They both offer opportunities for the dancers to reveal themselves in a simple, task oriented environment. The arc of the works comes from the increasing complexity of the tasks. Nothing more, nothing less.

After the first black out, actor Dan Larringa appeared alone, dressed as a cast member from the last piece. He panted and unbuttoned his shirt, expressing exhaustion while taking credit for dancing in the work that had just unfolded without him. After this ice-breaker, he proceeded to explain to us our program notes, which had many empty spaces in them. This was another opportunity to parade the dancers and learn their names. He then pointed out that naming the dances was up to us. For me this was a turning point in the evening. It lead me to expect that the program -an evidently disorganized grab-bag of short work- might turn out to be more carefully put together than it at first would appear.

What the organizing principle was here I didn’t quite figure out. If I had to guess, I would say that Brown chose these pieces, early studies of possible dances really, to show us just how lucky he was to have dancers like Rosy Goodman, Jenny Larsen and all the rest at his finger tips. (We are also lucky to have them around to dance for us.)

In one section, Christine Hasegawa stood impressively on different surfaces of Nathan Shaw’s body, while Dan Larringa, dressed in a trench coast, recited a psuedo-noir text about “a once honest stripper” turned into a drug addled urban power monger. Hasegawa’s aggression lead her through a violently sexual encounter that included repeatedly performing erotiziced chest compressions on Shaw’s helpless frame. Again I was reminded of RDT, and seeing Daniel Nagrin’s Strange Hero again recently during their 100 Years show. I wished for a little more context for how these tropes might inform a large work, but the little study was dissolved almost before it began.

Ursula Perry’s solo also put me in a historical mood, causing me to reflect on my ambivilence about how the Nikolais tradition in Utah continues to play out in choreography. Perry trudged across the space on all fours while wearing an SB Dance anti-fashion statement- a pair of tulle pants, a sports bra and oversize boots. She stopped along the way to pass through positions that looked lifted from a yoga or pilates video. At the end, the big boots gave way to tiny pink heels that had been hidden within all along. The big reveal was accomplished without much fanfare and Perry exited as she had entered, a fit, technical, if largely silent body in space.

The end of the show, which featured live music from Totem and Taboo, drew heavily on the gurney and other props from previous SB evenings. Once a spectre of the physical absurdity of human death, here the gurney seemed drained of all metaphoric value, as the dancers manipulated it with similar affect to that seen in the opening. These vignettes were also peppered with some of the inexplicable sexual agression of the Christina and Shaw’s duet mentioned above. Some of the show’s more interesting vocabulary  can be found here, and James Eccs dances it with a naturalist charm and understatedness very rare in Utah dance. But the collaboration is not to a point yet where it would be appropriate to try to give it real critical feedback. The band’s music is promising, but I think they need a real drummer for their encroachment into the dance space to feel real. The dance itself reads as series of unmediated choreographic ideas and dance verbiage.

In fact, I wonder if it is even appropriate to review a show like this, which is really in someways just a very formal, if somewhat scattered, high-stakes rehearsal with great lighting. That said, it’s clear that Brown wants us to take it seriously, and whatever you can say about the work, it sold out tonight and will probably sell out on Saturday. I’ll be interested to see what my peers think. I wonder how it compares to memories others might share with me of the earlier iterations of Utah’s self-proclaimed choreographer of the fringe.

Samuel Hanson is a dancer and choreographer living in Salt Lake City. 

January 23, 2013

thanks SLUG

by ashleyandersondances

SLUG has recently started a lot more coverage of experimental dance (thanks in part to Alex Ortega) and 2013 is seeing a continuation as they covered Arrivals/Departures on the podcast this week as well as an online feature. 

Check out the links for a good description on the opening performance and mark your calendars for February 15th when new performances will take place alongside the video installations.

January 22, 2013

FCA congratulations

by ashleyandersondances

We here at loveDANCEmore are pleased to announce that the chair of the board of Ashley Anderson Dances, Ishmael Houston-Jones, was one of 14 recipients of the 2013 Grants to Artists award from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts (FCA). This is unrestricted grant of $25,000 was awarded by nomination to artists working Dance, Music, Performance Art, Poetry and Visual Art. It is interesting to note that although this is a national award and grantees were from various states, all four recipients in the Dance category, Faye Driscoll, Rashaun Mitchell, Kota Yamazaki, and Ishmael are all from New York. Big congratulations Ishmael, (maybe now you can use some of that well-deserved cash to come out to Salt Lake, hint)!

January 22, 2013

Arrivals/Departures

by lovedancemoreguest

On January 18th loveDANCEmore, under the direction of Ashley Anderson, presented Arrivals/Departures at the Rio Gallery. The event was comprised of live performances choreographed by Emily Haygeman and Ashley Anderson with additional performance by  Cherie Mockli, Tara McArthur & Alex Bradshaw as well as video installations.

I have to say that I am constantly in awe of the work presented under the loveDANCEmore umbrella and most importantly of the laborious efforts put on by Ashley Anderson. Ms. Anderson continuously strives to embody, present and nurture the dance community in Salt Lake City without any personal recognition. It is refreshing not only that she strives to present work but that she does so often and in various formats. It’s refreshing when all you might see from other community leaders are fundraisers or events that may never come to fruition.

Arrivals/Departures was composed of performance and installation works set in the beautiful space of the Rio Gallery. As an educator this set up is ideal when asking students to experience art as a process of choice. They can arrive to witness a solo dance by Anderson or her duet for Alex and Tara and then depart to use their phones to watch Juan Aldape perform on land ranging from Salt Lake to Europe. Taking dance and putting it in this setting is refreshing and the more I attend events like this one, the more I realize that they expose the form in a way that is far more private and filled with personal choice for the audience. Most importantly, the set up of these galleries allow for immediate conversation on the subject of the performance. Unlike traditional theater showings, you can’t share the most immediate reactions to what is happening in front of you. I’m glad that someone is out there willing to do the work to present dance is such an accessible manner.

The only element of the show that I was not very pleased with was the presentation of Haygeman’s work. I have seen this work before and I found it unfortunate that it was presented in such a detached manner. The performance although looped, took place on the second level balcony. The work itself has a strong emotional resonance that was lost in this staging,  it needs a space where it can live in its own world, exploring its sensual nature.

The video projects will be on display through March 8th with another night of live performance on Feb. 15th.

Efren Corado is a choreographer and performer located in SLC. When not dancing or teaching you can find him snuggling his dog Jamie. 

January 21, 2013

(cutie and) the boxer

by ashleyandersondances

Tonight I had the great pleasure of seeing Ushio Shinohara perform at the new CUAC building near the corner of 2nd East and 2nd South. Recently re-located from Ephraim CUAC (pronounced Quack) is presenting Ushio’s work in conjunction with the screenings of Cutie and the Boxer at the Sundance Film Festival. While the exhibit of his work extends through March this was, to my knowledge, the only time he would be performing in Salt Lake City.

As the movie title suggests, Ushio boxes his paintings. Wearing gloves covered in foam pads, he dips them in paint and, always traveling from right to left, he aggressively maps out the terrain in flashes of color. While I’d seen online videos of his process, nothing could compare to the act of his live performance. Ushio, who turned 81 last week, is really boxing. He warms up, sharply shifting on his feet and forming attention at the canvas before him.  His translator tells me he is in a group of artists after WWII who each respond to their relationships with American culture. As he begins it’s like a comic book come to life. The POWs and BAMs are enacted through color and texture. I can make the connection to Jackson Pollock and also pop artists but it seems so much different because it’s designed for me to watch; it stems from (and embodies) the traditions of competition and violence inherent in boxing. I don’t only see the action taking place, I hear and feel the paint being arranged before him. Furthermore, I’m interested the whole way through.

I realize that this blog is about “dance”. But something about this performance awakened the audience. Everyone was hollering and noticeably gritting their teeth and his old hands connected with the wall. So many people were gathered in such a such space and with such energy that I was reminded of the vibrancy I so frequently lack at concert engagements. So often we, in modern dance, talk about the “visceral” relationship our work has with audiences; Ushio’s hands creating a landscape before me was the closest I’ve come to comprehending “visceral” in a long time. His performance was clear and expressive and singular in idea as well as form. It was repeated over and over without the expectation of change. It reminded me about what performance can be and how many people could be watching it, with bated breath and free expectation.

photo

January 20, 2013

Report from New York

by lovedancemoreguest

Hey, we here in the “Snapple” are trying to recover from two weeks of ubiquitous dance, dance, dance. It was the time of year when the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, APAP, invades the City and every choreographer and dancer decides to put on a show for the invaders. On one hand, it’s a great time to see a lot of work in a very short time. On the other hand, it can be very overwhelming and by the end one hungers to stay home and watch TV or go to a movie that features zero dance.

I hung out mostly at Ben Pryor’s fourth installment of his American Realness Festival housed at the Abrons Arts Center.  http://tbspmgmt.com/AMERICAN_REALNESS_.html
I performed as a guest in Keith Hennessy’s “Turbulence, a Dance about the Economy.” This import from San Francisco, is a chaotic, messy, visceral, circus of political theater that features drag (of many types), nudity (of several kinds), trapeze work, poetry, economic theory, music (electronic and banjo), urination, allusions to the occupy movement, contact improvisation, fake healing of audience members – (“there is nothing wrong with you and I have no power to cure you”), and, btw, dancing. But out of this chaos, something very moving and powerful transpires.

Of the pieces I saw, I was most affected by Jeanine Durning’s “inging,” Miguel Gutierrez and Mind Over Mirrors’ “Storing the Winter,” and Neal Medlyn’s “Wicked Clown Love.” Some might find it difficult to characterize either Jeanine’s or Neal’s pieces as “Dance.”

In “inging” Jeanine moves very little. She does a tour de force of her current speaking practice and talks rapid fire, almost non-stop on a myriad of subjects for almost 50 minutes. She does walk amongst the audience who are seated in chairs that have been scattered randomly about the Abrons basement theater space. The spontaneity of her free association thoughts is astounding. She pauses only to catch a sporadic breath or to take a sip of water.

Neal’s piece takes place in the same performance space, but the audience is arranged more traditionally. But that is the only traditional thing that happens in “Wicked Clown Love,” Neal’s homage, evocation, exploration and critique of the Juggalos of Wicked Clown Posse. There are rituals, songs, poems, DJ-ing, lots of spraying of Fago™ Soda, and a memorial service. I confess that I had no knowledge of the phenomena of Wicked Clown Posse or Juggalos before seeing this work but I was dropped into and surrounded by this post grunge, testosterone driven, and pseudo mystical world. I left humming the chant “Suck my n*** B****, f*** you!”

It seems that all my favorite pieces happened in the small basement space. Miguel Gutierrez and Mind Over Mirrors, (Jamie Fennely), presented a deceptively simple dance and music concert there. Jamie, who has relocated to Chicago and Miguel have not performed together in some time. While the set up was straightforward, it was a pleasure to see Miguel simply responding to and leading the spellbinding whirs of Jamie’s music; to appreciate what powerful, yet subtle physicality he possesses. And after experiencing his more intricate and extravagant new group choreography, “And lose the name of action,” in which I am a cast member, it was a real joy watching him dancing in blue jeans and a t-shirt (and one very large false eyelash.)

These were my personal favorites, but I actually saw 10 full-length pieces in a little more than 10 days. Others of note were Faye Driscoll’s “You’re Me”, Jack Ferver’s “Mon Ma Mes”, and Chris Cochrane. Jassem Hindi, Jen Rosenblit & Enrico D. Wey’ s “…or and animal…”

And tonight I will perform in Yvonne Meier’s improv structure, Gogoloretz at the closing party. Although it has been a rich two weeks, I’m not sure if I’ll want to be seeing much dance in the coming week. (Except Judson on Monday and something at Dixon Place on Thursday and something either at NYLA or Danspace Project on Friday); it never ends here. Never!

Ishmael Houston-Jones is the chair of the board of Ashley Anderson Dances.

January 20, 2013

The Sugar Show

by lovedancemoreguest

Now in its 5th incarnation, the 2013 Sugar Show featured choreography that was short and sweet and in my opinion the strongest collection of work in my three years of attending this event.  The panel discussion that followed, however, was unfortunately long and arduous. I feel like much of my frustration over the event is because I see so much potential in it for nurturing emerging choreographers and cultivating audiences of dance enthusiasts. Therefore, I applaud Brittany Reese and co-producer Stephen Brown for continuing to experiment with the format of the show.  While I don’t think they’ve landed on the exact right formula yet, I am glad to see that they are continuing to let the show evolve and adapt to best suit the needs of the local dance community.  I also want to acknowledge Reese in particular for her selfless contributions, of which the Sugar Show is just one, to dance in Salt Lake City.

The opening piece of the evening was a sumptuous duet entitled “Nightsong” by choreographer Monica Campbell. Largely inspired by performer Ismael Arriata’s original score, it explored the “haunting magnificence of the night” and the “ritualistic existence of two lonely vampires.”  In the velvety shadows of the stage, the adept pair enacted a rich language of fully embodied gesture.  I particularly enjoyed watching Mindy Houston’s performance as she flowed easily between attending to her partner and addressing the audience.  I have seen several pieces by Campbell over the years and this work stands out as a fresh choreographic exploration.

“Dance of the Greedy”, choreographed by TaCara De Tevis in collaboration with performers of local hula-hoop troupe Hula Hoopology, brought a unique genre of performance to the concert dance stage.  The piece began with the striking, albeit brief, image of nude bodies huddled in a pool of light.  I could have watched this shape morph and evolve for far longer, but the dancers soon broke apart to manipulate their individual hula-hoops.  As the program notes and title suggest, the theme of the piece addressed the human experience of greed.  The bulk of the dance vacillated between literal representations of greed and interesting collaborative shapes created by the connection of human bodies through multiple hula-hoops.  I think it is unfortunate that the panel discussion seemed to glance over this piece as I feel it stood to benefit the most from the constructive feedback process.  While clearly less choreographically sophisticated than some of the other works in the program, this dance opens up a new avenue of investigation for the fusion of hula hooping and concert dance and the earnest performers seemed eager to engage with feedback.

Tara McArthur’s work “Skewered”, in collaboration with Efren Corado Garcia, created a landscape of illumination and darkness through the use of several freestanding electric lights.  In the opening solo, McArthur highlights Corado’s mercurial flow via hand held work light.  The two proceed into a circular and egalitarian duet, each lifting the other in turn.  Simply put, I love to watch these two bodies move.  Watching them move together and mimic each other’s distinct movement styles?  Even better.  I also particularly enjoyed the bold colors and disjointed prints of the dancers’ costumes.  So often in modern dance costuming seems to be a game of avoiding the issue rather than a task of artistic choice.  It was refreshing not to see dance pants and tank tops in muted tones blending in with the backdrop.  As far as what the piece was about–I’m not sure and that doesn’t really bother me.  For me it was enough to relish in the images of golden light and waves of movement comprising McArthur and Corado’s intimate world.

The program concluded with the powerful all male ensemble “Sojourn” choreographed by Michelle Player and Tami Whatcott.  Men in khaki pants and black T-shirts flooded the stage alternating between moments of randomized, individual movement and unison.  Repeatedly, interesting ideas erupted and dissolved back into the group with an unsatisfying easiness.  I would have enjoyed seeing the choreography hold onto these potential moments of tension and select specific ideas to flesh out more fully.  Thus, the piece lacked a clear sense of progression and seemed like a soup chocked full of delicious ingredients that had not yet had the time to meld into a full-bodied flavor.  The connection between so many dancers sharing the stage, however, elicited a wonderful emotional response for many in the audience that reminds one of the role dance can play in bringing people together in community.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the creative presentations of the evening, the ensuing panel discussion was disappointing.  From the onset of the feedback process, facilitator Stephen Brown deferred to the “expert opinions” of the selected panel members.  It was nice to have several visiting guest artists included in the panel; however, three of the five were connected to Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company.  When asked a question regarding bias, Brown commented that Salt Lake is a small community, but I think that more of an effort could have been made to include artists of different backgrounds and aesthetic viewpoints.  Even more frustrating was Brown’s facilitation style.  After listening to multiple panelists speak in jargon ripe for a graduate-level composition class, he offhandedly invited the audience to contribute to the conversation as well.  All in all, the “discussion” seemed more didactic than engaging and it discouraged me from sharing my thoughts and opinions, of which I had many, on the works.  If I were an audience member with less dance experience, I can only imagine how much more uncomfortable I would have been to think for myself and connect with the work on a personal level.

In the end, the audience voted in favor of “Sojourn” and the panelists for “Skewered”.  Given the tie situation, producers Brown and Reese made the final call and awarded the $1,000 cash prize to Michelle Player and Tami Whatcott for “Sojourn”.  In last year’s Sugar Show, although a single choreographer was chosen as the winner, the award money was shared between several choreographers.  It seemed curious that given the tie situation, this year’s format could not accommodate the idea of financially supporting multiple artists in their future artistic endeavors.

My final thoughts on the evening are that the Sugar Show has a great amount of potential, but that the producers haven’t quite figured out what the goal of the show is yet and in turn, the format to best support this goal.  In spite of all of this, I look forward to seeing next year’s installment.  And hey, maybe they’ll read this review and invite me to be on the expert panel!

Elizabeth Stich is based in Salt Lake City. You might find her teaching at various universities, Aerial Arts of Utah or performing at venues all over town. 

January 17, 2013

this weekend

by ashleyandersondances

Tomorrow is the opening of Arrivals/Departures at the Rio Gallery (300 S. Rio Grande, literally under the Rio Grande sign downtown for those that might be unfamiliar).

Since the founding of “ashley anderson dances” in 2010 loveDANCEmore has produced numerous new media screenings but this is definitely more expansive in size and scope and we are really proud of the show. Arrivals/Departures features work by local artists Erin Kaser Romero, Ellen Bromberg, Sam Hanson, Ashley Anderson & Juan Aldape (as well as their collaborators and performers) but it features a lot of national artists with strong Utah ties; Karinne Keithley Syers & Diana Crum (previous artists-in-residence) as well as Prentice Whitlow & David Rousseve (former RW performer & choreographer respectively).

You might see films by viewing them from your seat with headphones but you might also see them through telescoping lenses and by reading QR codes. You might see the familiar landscapes of Sugar House Park, the Salt Flats and the Main Library but you will also see unfamiliar landscapes both real and imagined.

You can see it all through March 8th during the Rio’s business hours (weekdays 8-5) but gallery stroll offers up three performances which include choreography and performance by Ashley Anderson, Tara McArthur, Alex Bradshaw, Cherie Mockli & Emily Haygeman. The dances are ongoing from 7-9 and you can approach them much the way you might one of the films. Arrive when you can, watch however long you are able and take away what you will.

Arrivals/Departures: Jan 18-Mar 8 at the Rio Gallery
Gallery Stroll Performances 7-9; Jan 18 & Feb 15
Admission is free, no reservations

If that’s not enough dance for your weekend the Sugar Show also has a new installment on Saturday and there are upcoming shows by SBDance, co.da & more. Check back the blog for details and reviews on all SLC dance in 2013.

January 15, 2013

New Theatre at SLAA

by lovedancemoreguest

If you regularly drive down 200 E, you may have noticed that the Salt Lake Arts Academy is under construction. Why is this of interest to the dance community? Because they are building a new black box space. For the past six years, the dance program has been housed in a tiny studio even smaller than a traditional classroom. The mission of the school, to provide intensive daily arts instruction that integrates with the core curriculum, is fulfilled by an innovative and daring student body.

This weekend, in honor of the new construction which has brought larger facilities for all of the arts disciplines, the dance students will perform collaborations between themselves and dance teacher Karin Fenn. There will be live music by Salt Lake Alternative Percussion and Judson Armstrong.

Eventually, the space will be available for rental by independent choreographers and producers. For now, SLAA and Fenn need the local dance community to come out and support them as they present a concert and try to raise the funds to finish everything up. More information and a rendering of the new building can be found at slarts.org/arts-wing-project. Donations for admission will solely support the completion of the dance and other arts facilities including mirrors, barres, marley floor, sound equipment and other essentials. It’s Thursday and Friday January 17 and 18 at 7PM. (Still time to attend and make it to Arrivals/Departures by 9pm during Gallery Stroll).

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