Dance on the Fringe

The Fringe Festival, a four day long showcase of local talent, and yet another reason to love the bursting at its seams art community in Salt Lake City, featured work by Bradley Beakes followed by Samantha Matsukawa on closing night.

Beakes show, “id”, gave us four works varied in tone, technique and impulse.  “id” opened with His Red Letter Day, a solo performed by Beakes that travels to the past while being grounded in the visceral now.  The piece begins with quick movement through space and the pace and energy of a man in his prime.  We hear a muddled, but decipherable, voice-over of an older male reminiscing on war, faith, and love.  The piece alternates between charged athletic movement that refuses to settle with dimly lit, grounded retrospection.  Beakes is an arresting performer that blends power with weight and navigates this personal tribute with skill.  The piece ends with questions about and acceptance of our unavoidable immortality, and Beakes in his third costume change of the piece, this time showing the flesh and vulnerability of man.

Another stand-out piece of the night, Intercepting Light, was choreographed and performed by Beakes with Tara McArthur.  Both dancers move with clarity and intention, and paired with start-stop timing the piece maintains tension and cool drama.  These are two dancers that just look good together.   I didn’t want to miss a single gesture or second of movement, and so I shifted back and forth in my seat as the duo traveled through space.  I noticed several others doing the same.  McArthur holds center stage for much of the duet, while Beakes accompanies in the shadows.  Eventually the structure loosens and they find a more shared and symbiotic relationship.  

When There Was Here and bODY pOLITIC rounded out the evening, featuring a large group of local dance artists and showcasing Beake’s range in approach. When There Was Here utilizes a minimal yet dramatic score from Max Richter and lighting that focused the piece. The dancers navigate moving out of the floor and off each other with skill and succeed in forming a community of physicality.  While choreographically weaker than other works in the evening, it did represent a more somatic approach to the body.

In bODY pOLITIC  we are blessed with a world where dancers move virtuosically to the beat, smell and pick at one another, and experience a dynamic conversation with varied approaches to the word “Hey”, all while wearing blue lipstick.  The dancing is explosive and fun, and the ceiling is literally broken through when we see Bashaun Williams crawling above the catwalk.  The show closed with well-deserved and enthusiastic applause from the crowd.

Thirty minutes later Samantha Matsukawa was on stage showing her collaborative work “12345678910” alongside Florian Alberge and Eliza Tappan.  The three stumbled onto the stage in formal wear that somehow still felt hip, and alternate between looking like deer in headlights to smooth skilled modern dancers.  Throughout, magic revealed messages written on rolled up pieces of fabric and ultimately revealed the uniqueness of each dancer.  Alberge had a lengthy solo blending magic with physical comedy, and judging from the laughter in the audience, it was well received.  The work was well suited for the theatre-heavy festival as it deftly blended theatre with dance, and gave new patrons a doorway into our sometimes alienating world.  Matsukawa is a young dance-maker that offers a fresh point of view, and it will be exciting to see her further flesh out her ideas.

Erica Womack regularly contributes reviews to loveDANCEmore. She is also an adjunct professor at SLCC and has a new choreographic project sponsored by loveDANCEmore being presented this fall.