Dance at the 6th Annual Craft Lake City DIY Festival

At Craft Lake City 2014, there was much dance to be had. If you missed the show, check out this video. Below is a review from Amy Falls, visiting from NYC.

It was with pleasure that I made my way downtown to the annual Craft Lake City DIY Festival this Saturday August 9th, excited to see some outdoor dance while vacationing from New York City. Craft Lake City has, to the delight of local performers and audiences alike, come to present a wide variety of local dance acts in addition to its namesake do-it-yourself wares. A host of disciplines graced the Graywhale Entertainment Stage over the course of Saturday’s performance schedule, including modern dance, ballet, and belly dancing. For the sake of this review, I shall only be including the performance acts that fell mostly within the modern dance category (time constraints did not allow me to arrive until after some other acts had already performed).

Samuel Hanson’s trio for two women and one man was first after I arrived. All three in black dresses, the dancers signalled, undulated, and posed, engaging in series of complex gestures that changed levels swiftly and deftly. The dancers’ moments in motion read like a waving reef of undersea anemones while their instances of stillness assumed a statuesque royalty. Joshua Mora remained a stalwart presence throughout, though his exciting slide across the stage in front of the two women presented a satisfying change. Amy Freitas’ spirited joy and Katherine Adler’s crisp specificity imbued added depth throughout Hanson’s existing structure.

Karin Fenn, performing alongside her daughter Linda Tausala Frank, transformed the stage space into a lazy summer porch scene. The two slumped lethargically in opposite-facing chairs as sounds of an old radio crackling emerged from the speakers. Modern moves came with a vintage twist and an indolent sensuality, as the two women clasped their hands up high and lazily “did the stanky leg” of pop culture renown.

Katherine Adler and Samantha Matsukawa wove a charmed tale to three renditions of the Bob Dylan tune “In the Pines.” The two command space and presence both with their gazes and nonchalant yet virtuosic movement sensibilities. Adler and Matsukawa made the welcomed choice to jump off the stage mid-piece, running barefoot toward the audience on the sun-warmed red bricks in front. Weighted arabesques that crumpled in upon themselves demonstrated Adler and Matsukawa’s ability to skim gracefully on top of movement or to allow it to settle deeply within their skeletal structures. While no specific narrative was apparent, the two performers created structure with their interactive intent and the weaving together of musical sections. One final resonating ball change impelled the two off stage, apt punctuation for their neatly crafted duet.

Movement Forum, familiarly known as MoFo, displayed a smattering of skillful partnering and floor work. The rainbow-clad dancers wove between each other, popping around and pausing as a respite from the driving musical score. While I assumed that the work presented was improvised, given the group’s mission statement, recurring motifs such as a hover lift between the Nancy Carter and the Kat Kubichek Martinez provided anchors throughout. The ability to make conscious decisions regarding the overall piece’s thread aids outside viewers in accessing improvisation, and MoFo understands this well.

The last performance I saw was the debut work of newly-formed company Triptych Figures. Co-founders and performers Brooklyn Draper, Joshua Mora, and Monica Remes began with co-existing solo work. This morphed into seamless unison and then continued on as a distinct trio. While the three displayed their prowess as movers, I found the introduction of political voiceovers about tar sands extraction to be abrupt and difficult to relate to the movement unfolding onstage. Flyers advertising websites for the anti-tar-sands-extraction movement were handed out to the audience. Modern dance, still accused of being insular and self-indulgent, could use activism as its noble partner, and as Utahns, we additionally appreciate the grandeur of our land. However as an audience member, I crave a work in which elements actively collaborate, rather than just exist on the same temporal plane. The company defines a triptych as consisting of a set of three things intended to be appreciated together, and I look forward to seeing Triptych Figures hone in on this in works to come.

It was wonderful to see local dancers and choreographers presenting work in an environment such as Craft Lake City. Being a part of the festival atmosphere with its wide array of attendees helps to further establish modern dance as a viable participant in Salt Lake City’s culture.

Amy Falls is a dancer, choreographer and performer based in Brooklyn, NY, where she has recently worked administratively with artists such as Keith Thompson.