Weekend 2 of NWNW, Studio + Mainstage Jun 16, 2009

by Tania Kupczak

If the Weekend 2 showcases of NW New Works this year were any indication of Weekend 1, I'm sorry to have been out of town at that time. Way to shake off the shackles of geographic anaemia, northwesterners! What a captivating display of creative vitality. Sunday night on the mainstage: The evening begins with It's Just a Dance by the response. I would say that it's much more than just a dance, it's a successful lobby installation. Seeing a good pre-show lobby installation is like spotting a pegasus perched on top of a tree outside your window. All odds are against the performers. It's Just a Dance was enticing enough to pull me away from milling-about-the-lobby conversation to observe, then the music continued to build, then the two dancers started pulling and throwing each other around the lobby, onto the bar, forcibly breaking up patrons' conversations through the energy of their activity. They conquered that lobby. Amelia Reeber and Scott/Powell Performance comprised the first half of the all-dance showcase. Both works had interesting elements of choreography and solid performances, but this juxtaposition brought me to contemplate the use of visual art and costumes in dance. I saw it aid Amelia Reeber's this is a forgery and detract from Scott/Powell's work. HOME had some beautiful moments, but I found myself continually pulled away from a connection while I wondered about the significance of the blue lines on the floor or what the costumes were intended to convey. Leaping momentarily to the last work of the evening to follow this train of thought, zoe | juniper's work continues to hold a strong awareness encompassing all mediums they work with. Partnering with Holcombe Waller for the music in Old Girl powered some complex twists and turns in the tone of the work. Zoe's choreography is full of tension, looks wildly uncomfortable, and is continuously emotionally communicative. Directly preceding zoe | juniper, 605 Collective's Audible was my favorite work of the evening, and given the audience's response, I believe I was not alone. Infectious energy, gloriously playful, absolutely precise. I could have watched them for hours, which is fortunate because it looks like this was an excerpt of an hour long work to be premiered in Vancouver, BC in July. Keep it coming. Friday night in the studio: Sunday Service: art without contrivance. I know these women, I know that they're all talented with distinct, compelling personalities, and I knew the basic intent of their Sunday meetings. I was not prepared for them to take their personal, spiritual, musical exploration and turn it into such a compelling and exposing theatre piece. The pacing was flawless and their physical interaction added humor and warmth. I did not grow up with the expectation of following an organized religion put upon me, but there was a universal quality to their testimonies that was intensely emotionally moving. Their work reminded me that vulnerable performance is often the most shocking. It wasn't a self-indulgent confession, it was a hand extended. And the a capella Bach at the end floored me. Way to create a gem, ladies. Given my emotional reaction to the first piece and how starkly different it was from the rest of the studio showcase works, it was difficult for me to change gears and accommodate. I did pull my mind back around to note the well-crafted blend of choreography, sound and video work in Jurg Koch | Lyn Goeringer's ab: from / to. I enjoyed the juxtaposition of this work with the first, contrasting the directly emotionally connective nature of Sunday Service's piece with an analytic observation; emotional situations seen from the lens of a scientific behavioral study. The last two pieces in the studio showcase distanced themselves even further from the start of the evening's program through a sharp focus on satirical social commentary. From Angela Fair's portrayal of a vapid narcissist having an emotional breakdown while wailing some Nine Inch Nails to Rush-N-Disco's manic, condensed view into YouTube personalities, the showcase ended with a reminder of the commotion and information overload constantly at our fingertips. - Kate Ratcliffe