Scott/Powell: Full Frontal Intensity Nov 16, 2007

by Yann

I’m just home for an evening at  “On The Boards, ” where I saw a highly anticipated show, Geography by Scott/Powell Performance. I was first introduced to the group’s work last Valentine’s Day at  “Ten Tiny Valentine’s Dances, ” where I thought Powell’s well-crafted score perfectly accompanied Scott’s duet. Tonight, I was also anxious for more exposure to Robert Campbell video design, who’s work I first saw at The Henry Art Gallery/ 911 Media’s New Works Laboratory Piece with Yuki Nakamura. During this earlier show, his projections from the ceiling mapped out a fascinating new world for the viewers. After having experienced work by all these great artists who have impressed me so much, my expectations were built up quite a bit for Geography. Scott starts the dancers at a pretty extreme velocity, which lends itself well to Powell’s score, which utilized silence a great deal and turned the dancers pants and groans into a choral accompaniment. Using the dancers as instruments is a reoccurring theme throughout the score. During one section, the dancers produce the entire score with what looked pipes and one dancer playing a gong ageng[?] with his fists. Bisecting the piece is a beautiful solo, which felt more like a duet as the dancer struggled to embrace her dress’s exaggerated length. This solo also contained the best composition, but also the most disappointing moment; a beautifully delicate piano and synth piece is almost drowned out by a voiceover, which really shattered the world that had been built up. Despite my high hopes, I have to say Geography fell a little short of my expectations. The piece had many good qualities, but it lacked an emotional punch for me by not delivering many highs or lows and instead opted for an even pace throughout. Keeping the dancers at almost full strength for most of the piece, one almost forgets why they are panting because their struggle has become so consistent. This constant velocity does work nicely with Powell’s juxtaposed score of Delicate scampers and melodies, but I was left wondering what would have happened if Powell had stopped restraining the score and paired something bolder to the velocity of the dance. That brings me to the question of why was Powell at the edge of the stage? I was left a little perplexed as to what a live presence brought to the performance. I also wondered where Campbell was in the piece, I only really felt his presence during a 90 sec video element during a costume change. All in all, Geography does provide an exciting evening, where dancers are pushed to their limits as the score is restrained to showcase the dancers struggle. Produced by a great cast of collaborators and dancers, the piece possesses some great moments, and could be very enjoyable for someone who loves full frontal intensity. However, for me, it lacked the subtleties needed to carry a full length piece. – Yann Novak