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.