Earlier this week I wrote a preview for 15 BYTES about MicroDance; a performance that tasks choreographers with making dances for a 32-square foot stage in the Blackbox Theater of the Rose. Audiences view the work in the round and because of the limited seating, I am writing my review from tonight’s dress rehearsal. While a rehearsal lacks the vibrancy of a packed house, it certainly showcased the intimacy that DTC hoped to achieve with the use of this new format.
The evening opens with The Perfect Pirouette made by Ai Fujii Nelson for Juan Carlos Claudio. Juan Carlos spends the piece avoiding the task of one pirouette opting instead to warm up, discuss what teachers have always been saying to him (up!) and use the audience to demonstrate “spotting.” For as much as the piece uses dance vocabulary, I think it will read to a larger audience. Juan Carlos shows, in a purely physical way, how even the most simple movements are constructed from the body with all its idiosyncrasies. Having watched Juan Carlos perform numerous times with Ririe Woodbury and SB Dance I thought I was familiar with his dancing but up close and under the choreographic eye of Ai Fujii, I get to see so many more interesting aspects to how he initiates movement, how he describes it and also a window into how he experiences it. The Perfect Pirouette doesn’t interrupt my expectations of concert dance as the marketing suggests but it does something better — it distills and magnifies them.
Jerry Gardner & Kimberly Schmit have similarly contemplative works but rather than using text they rely on visual images. For Schmit those are created using small lights to illuminate the performance and for Gardner a projected floor and collapsable pole that extends beyond the stage. The slow nature of each piece wasn’t always matched by myself as an audience member. After watching so many dances with the same ambient music and general flow I’m not sure I was giving back to them the energy their performances were offering me.
Both Impact by Ashley Mott and Vida Ride by Emily May utilize traditional idioms within partnering and I wondered whether the works would be different if made for the larger stage. While certainly consolidated, they maintained a consistent energy with one of the Wasatch Front’s more common threads — matching virtuosity with emotionally laden subtext. Although I didn’t see the space completely transformed there were many moments to enjoy. In Ashley’s duet Efren Corado and Sofia Gorder were fluid and engaging and being so close revealed the delicate transfers of weight that audiences may not always notice from a distance.
Each piece on the concert invited my curiosity about “ten tiny dances” the Portland-based series this event was modeled after. As a biannual event their (slightly higher) platform has been moved to sites beyond the theater space. With the diverse casts and methods curated by DTC I know that the MicroDance series could similarly expand in numerous ways, all of which I would welcome enthusiastically. The more I considered each dance as “site non-specific” and let my imagination roam to a place I could see the work again (a hillside, a seashore, a parking lot, my laundry room) the more I knew there is more micro-dancing to be done in SLC.
Ashley Anderson runs this blog as part of her 501(c)3, ashley anderson dances