Maybe I was the only person that didn't enjoy "The Story of Eight," RawMoves' prop-driven escapade of 2009. Then again, maybe I wasn't. But I think I had a unique reason for my dislike.
I thought the poster for that show, which featured ropes and ladders and such, looked like the scene from a ship, I thought the title referred to pieces of eight and I assumed the show would be about pirates. Needless to say, I was mistaken and a little disappointed. I walked into this year's show with a taste of regret still on the tongue.
I was astounded. The first ten minutes of "Babble" fulfilled my need for textual banter and fast, classy moves. The dancing from this troupe is often fierce, but the choreography is not always this seamless and complex. I found my eye roving from one pair of cheeky fork-lovers to the next with gleams of anticipation. The text elements continued to push boundaries, striking an engaging balance between chaos and clarity. There were very impressive Russian sounding rants, a few lyrical motifs (When A Man Loves a Woman -- yes!!) and an incredible lack of gesture-driven phrases where dancers cover their mouths with their hands and sprinkle unsaid words to the ground like dust.
The smaller ensemble dance sections were often quieter, but still enjoyable. Tyler Kunz left his paperwork behind for an evening and rattled us with a macabre solo. A notable trio engaged in a beautifully interwoven set of phrases. The larger ensemble pieces, especially the finale, fell a little flat in my opinion, though they were full of fine dancing. Perhaps too full. Arranged in cumbersome lines, the dancers seemed to tread water instead of stir the space. A fellow audience member mentioned that the dance sections seemed like the "safety net" in an otherwise daring show.
I have always been impressed that choreographers Natosha Washington and Nicholas Cendese manage to find room in the busy SLC dance scene for their professionally produced, but small company. This year, my respect for them as choreographers has grown. Here's hoping that they keep surprising audiences for years to come.
Kitty Sailer is a MFA candidate at the University of Utah