Movement Forum aka mofo

below check out the review from Belle Baggs of the 9th & 9th showing by Movement Forum. if you caught them today at Liberty Park feel free to send reviews and make sure to check out their work on stage at the Rose Establishment tomorrow night at 6pm ($5 at the door).

On a Friday summer evening it was refreshing to catch our local dance improv-ers parading in a local outdoor setting.  Movement Forum (aka Mofo) presented The Surreal World on the 9th and 9th intersection, an hour-long improvisational show that interweaved between traffic lights and pedestrians.

I enjoy that ambience of performance art because the craft just lives in the space that one is occupying and is available for viewing at your convenience. You don’t feel obligated to stay focused and ideally present as with staged performances. Instead it feels casual enough to chat with friends and drink some coffee while at the same time reveling in the motions caught by your eye, in this case the silly and purposeful awkward transits of the dancers.

The mobbing of the 7 dancers formed around the perimeter of the intersection as the soundtrack blared a chorus of chirping crickets. They waited for the walk signals and proceeded in clumps with varying types of locomotion:  hopping, skipping, and jumping. It started more low-key and soon became a string of people twitching, jolting, and jerking in a ripple effect as if they had directly been shocked with electrical voltage. Next followed a section of mirroring, as the dancers separated and followed each other in spontaneous movements from their diagonal posts.

I admire this form for the way it almost forces the non-audience members to become involved. Local consumers and traffic are coerced into watching the absurdity taking place in the cross walks. Imagine waiting at the stoplight in your car and witnessing a trio of people walking nonchalantly across the street, yet one of them is being carried inverted with her legs erect in the air.  On the other side you view a group of strangers beboping across the street on their hands and flinging their limbs in the air. While in the corner a soloist is like a proud warrior practicing his balance skills and flowing with strength and peace. You can’t help but laugh as a free will audience member. Watching the onlookers’ reactions was one of my favorite parts of the experience.  Some opted to completely ignore the circumstances (which was even more hilarious) and some decided to react or ask questions.

What I respect about the company is that all of the movers are unique and interesting to watch as individuals. As with any improvised show my inquiring mind always wonders what the score is (if there is one) and how did they make their plan of attack? I found myself waiting and anticipating the drive of the show, especially in the transition moments of waiting for the “walk” signal.  But at the same time it was nice that as a whole the surreal effect was curbed (pun intended) All in all they are a dynamic group of performers and completely likable characters in this performance as they kept their cool while erupting semi-chaos on the 9th & 9th grid.

After the show I saw a family of layman skipping and hopping across the street—that is the power of taking art directly to a public forum. As Erica Womack, dancer and audience member, said, “ I’ll always think “how” I will cross the street and perhaps try something more “creative” or “interesting” next time.

Belle Baggs is an Idaho native & holds her M.F.A. from the University of Utah