Movement Forum: Mine Goes to Eleven

Movement Forum, otherwise known as MoFo, celebrated their eleventh year by curating a show of dynamite choreographers and dancers called Mine Goes To 11: THE MOFO SHOW. The company worked with Gabriel Forestieri, Yvonne Meier, Stephen Koester, Miguel Gutierrez, and Ishmael Houston-Jones.


We began the evening being lead around outside the University of Utah’s Marriott Center for Dance–– a big black umbrella showing us the way. We were witnessing U and Leah, choreographed by Gabriel Forestieri. As we walked, we fell upon some dancers sitting on a bench, and then four others standing against a wall. This edifice was a campus building separated from us by a flat, vast concrete space. The dancers ran and walked along the sagittal lines of the concrete, fell into duets, solos, and in and out of a unison phrase. This particular space allowed the audience’s perception of the dancers to change, as they were able to use the long depth between them, drastically changing their size in front of our eyes–– something impossible on a shallower proscenium stage. We were then lead to other areas where the dancers interacted with the architecture and open windows, dumpsters and railings. They went in and out of apparent improvisation and clear choreography. At one point, the audience was stationed above a small grassy hill where the dancers ran up, somersaulted, and rolled down the hill like children, which was a joy to watch from our point of view. In general, this site-specific piece used locations around the MCD Building where I’d never imagined dance occurring. It was a fun, unique and interactive experience for all.

The first stage piece was NYC-based Yvonne Meier’s Gogolorez. The dancers, dressed in black, gold and yellow, entered the stage upon instructions announced by Michael Watkiss, who stood stage-left with a microphone. The entire piece was a live improvisation score coming to life as we watched–– something Meier has played with before. Watkiss instructed on how to move and/or what to imagine. There was twitching, fainting, laughing, bumping, and dying a slow death. Some ideas gradually changed in being repetitively interrupted by another idea, and some ideas abruptly switched over to something completely new. It was incredibly intriguing and entertaining to watch the obedient dancers actively make new decisions over and over again. The process was predictable, but the ideas and movement were unpredictable, bizarre and humorous.

she’s a beautiful man, a collaborative work with Miguel Gutierrez, was completely different than any other piece in the show. The work was “made remotely”. Gutierrez sent MoFo articles, videos, songs, writings of his own, and other inspirations he came across over the course of the summer. The piece seemed to have no beginning, middle or end. There were lots of strange props, costumes, characters, and texts. The speaking seemed to be from stream-of-conscious writings, perhaps inspired by separate situations the audience was unaware of, or by the actual performance as it happened. To me, it was as if Gutierrez’s mind and the minds of the dancers were shaken up and then emptied into a box, and then shaken up a bit more. The audience was given a glimpse into this box of mixed up thoughts and ideas, some of which were hilarious, sad, uncomfortable and confusing.

Personally, I have been waiting to see works like these here in Salt Lake City since I moved here fifteen months ago. It was incredibly refreshing and different, but at the same time comforting to me. Not only were the choreographic ideas incredibly engrossing, but they were very well executed by the performers. I saw a performance and movement range in these dancers that I had not yet seen in them before. They were animated and immensely creative on the spot. They proved they could improvise well alone and with each other, and that they could also execute choreography well together, as in Stephen Koester’s5 and a short 20. This Is How The Story Goes, (As Far As I Can Tell) by Ishmael Houston-Jones, perfectly closed the show. A series of duets moved back and forth across the stage, gradually shifting into trios and even larger groups. With a live guitarist on stage, the piece ended with a trio that featured Sarah Franco telling a story about her grandparents. It was raw, real and in the moment. I left this show completely satisfied, but also with anticipation to see more. I believe that THE MOFO SHOW was a complete success and I couldn’t be more excited to see more from them in the future.

Monica Remes is a member of Tryptic Figures, a local dance group in which she’s joined by Brooklyn Draper and Joshua Mora. She holds a degree in dance from Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

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