This weekend Sugar Space presented the premiere of their artists-in-residence inFluxdance. The group is a dedicated team of women under the direction of cross-continental collaborators Alysia Woodruff & Rose Pasquarello Beauchamp. With a large team of video, sound and design artists, inFluxdance certainly presented a lot of material to consider.
In its best moments, justice for all some presented honest and complex partnering between the uniquely all-female company. Their energy toward one another was sensitive and engaging. No matter your opinion of the topics they tackled each performer maintained strong investment in their subject matter and in one another. In that way, the piece was a pleasure to see.
In other moments the piece resembled another recent work which tackled protest and social justice. The work was reminiscent of David Dorfman’s underground and both dances feature strong performance and physical research. Unfortunately both works also share problematic parts. Featuring a lack of performers of color yet employing traditional iconography of civil rights creates tension. Both also use strong visual and aural components like video montage and an identical “step forward if, step back if” dialogue regarding the dancers’ relationship to social struggles like internment or suffrage.
In the end was another startling similarity where all the dancers started placing cloth figures of people about the space. Dorfman did the same thing but with graphics. And in both cases there was a startling sense that the piece was still figuring out its ultimate direction and what it wants to show regarding such a massive topic as protest.
inFluxdance seems at a crossroads of choosing whether the subject matter of the protests they support is where the piece lies (let’s not forget the Tea Partiers are protestors too) or whether, (as I imagine) that the piece lies more in about what protests do– bring bodies together and then watch bodies dissipate, show bodies in both revelry and suffering. The lingering image of all those small figures in the space alludes to this idea, that it’s more about the body and less about the design elements. In justice for all some the dancing told the story and I would be interested to see what more it has to tell.
Ashley Anderson runs loveDANCEmore programs through her non-profit, ashley anderson dances.