Saturday, June 13, 2009

dandelion dancetheater

My friend, the lovely Julia, got me tickets to see Dandelion Dance Theater's new show, so on Tuesday evening, the always magnificent Heather and I went down to the Travelling Jewish Theater (which is in the Artaud complex).

This is (pretty much) what I thought:

It is a small, casual space, and it makes you feel less like you are settling down to watch a show and more like you are in a room where anything might sweep you out of the ordinary world. It’s a good venue for Dandelion’s work, which explores the vulnerability and absurdity of being human through a mad mixture of music, dialogue, and movement.

The first piece on the program was We love you to the end of the world, directed by Kimiko Guthrie. It examines an unwieldy chunk of layered subjects—war, media, family, consumption, delusion—and the performers achieved some striking images, but the work felt slightly unclear. It seemed like it was trying to say too many things at once before it knew exactly what it wanted to talk about.

The second piece, Mutt 49 Crosses the Line, created by Eric Kupers and the entire performing ensemble, was funny, awkward, bizarre, and deliciously absurd. It made me laugh, made me uncomfortable, and made me goggle at the immense range of the Dandelion performers. Here they are playing the banjo, the guitar, and the harmonica in a deranged country band. Here they are singing, dancing, reading a list of shameful transgressions, and telling a story about a dog with four freckles on its beloved toes. They enact submission with a violin, drift across the stage like a blind moon, and introduce each other like circus impresarios or announcers at a rodeo. The piece is a collage of emotions and unlikely visuals. It careens through them, but it doesn’t close itself off or become inscrutable. The performers seem to be having a conversation with you, telling you what it’s like to be them and wanting to know if it’s just as strange and difficult and funny to be you.

(I do have to say... I thought the nudity was mostly pointless. I don't mind nudity in shows when it says something. But if it just seems to be there to make me uncomfortable, or to be shocking, I get irritated.)

I’m glad I went though. I look forward to seeing how Mutt 49 develops as part of the larger project, MUTT, which is set to premiere next year. You should see this. Then you can look forward to it too.

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