Porridge for Goldilocks at the Urban Arts Festival

Porridge for Goldilocks has become quite an impressive group of dancers. They performed last Saturday at the Urban Arts Festival at the Gateway, accompanied by Wachira Waigwa-Stone. As much as I loathe going to the mall, I am glad that I forced myself this one time. The ensemble possesses stylistic variety that seems organic, though I suspect it has cost a lot of effort on the part of instigator Amy Freitas.

If you had described to me what I would see there I might not have wanted to go. The dancers, who reflexively refer to themselves and each other as “bears,” warmed-up to the side of the little stage as an impromptu dance party for festival attendees wound down. One by one, Porridge entered during a Queen song, which I initially thought to be interlude music provided by the festival emcee. The song cut out, and they dancers and Waigwa-Stone (who’d just finished setting up his drum kit) carried the tune to its conclusion. From there, they segued into other familiar improvisation devices and tricks: flocking, solos, dance against text and poetic manifestos of art-making and identity.

Again, if you’re as jaded as I am, this probably sounds like the kind of thing worth avoiding. That’s not how it actually felt at all. Sitting there, watching that particular group of people, I knew I was seeing some of the most talented and interesting dancers in Utah. They were figuring out how to participate in a collaborative situation that I would never put myself in because I have lost faith in such things. And yes, it was somewhat unfocused and disorganized as a “piece”. But it wasn’t really a “piece” so much as a structured jam. What I am trying to say is that it was very successful as that, a jam turned inside out, so that the ecstatic experience of dancing in a room full of fascinating peers was somewhat visible and palpable to the audience.

The cultivation of a mini-community like this takes a lot of work. I imagine that much of this is undertaken by Freitas. Also indispensable here are Waigwa-Stone’s unique skills as a musician attuned to the vicissitudes of dance. I hope opportunities to be on stage like this one will help to keep some of these very talented dancers here in Utah. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Samuel Hanson is the New Media Coordinator for loveDANCEmore and also writes about dance for SLUG.