Dance at the 6th Annual Craft Lake City DIY Festival

At Craft Lake City 2014, there was much dance to be had. If you missed the show, check out this video. Below is a review from Amy Falls, visiting from NYC.

It was with pleasure that I made my way downtown to the annual Craft Lake City DIY Festival this Saturday August 9th, excited to see some outdoor dance while vacationing from New York City. Craft Lake City has, to the delight of local performers and audiences alike, come to present a wide variety of local dance acts in addition to its namesake do-it-yourself wares. A host of disciplines graced the Graywhale Entertainment Stage over the course of Saturday’s performance schedule, including modern dance, ballet, and belly dancing. For the sake of this review, I shall only be including the performance acts that fell mostly within the modern dance category (time constraints did not allow me to arrive until after some other acts had already performed).

Samuel Hanson’s trio for two women and one man was first after I arrived. All three in black dresses, the dancers signalled, undulated, and posed, engaging in series of complex gestures that changed levels swiftly and deftly. The dancers’ moments in motion read like a waving reef of undersea anemones while their instances of stillness assumed a statuesque royalty. Joshua Mora remained a stalwart presence throughout, though his exciting slide across the stage in front of the two women presented a satisfying change. Amy Freitas’ spirited joy and Katherine Adler’s crisp specificity imbued added depth throughout Hanson’s existing structure.

Karin Fenn, performing alongside her daughter Linda Tausala Frank, transformed the stage space into a lazy summer porch scene. The two slumped lethargically in opposite-facing chairs as sounds of an old radio crackling emerged from the speakers. Modern moves came with a vintage twist and an indolent sensuality, as the two women clasped their hands up high and lazily “did the stanky leg” of pop culture renown.

Katherine Adler and Samantha Matsukawa wove a charmed tale to three renditions of the Bob Dylan tune “In the Pines.” The two command space and presence both with their gazes and nonchalant yet virtuosic movement sensibilities. Adler and Matsukawa made the welcomed choice to jump off the stage mid-piece, running barefoot toward the audience on the sun-warmed red bricks in front. Weighted arabesques that crumpled in upon themselves demonstrated Adler and Matsukawa’s ability to skim gracefully on top of movement or to allow it to settle deeply within their skeletal structures. While no specific narrative was apparent, the two performers created structure with their interactive intent and the weaving together of musical sections. One final resonating ball change impelled the two off stage, apt punctuation for their neatly crafted duet.

Movement Forum, familiarly known as MoFo, displayed a smattering of skillful partnering and floor work. The rainbow-clad dancers wove between each other, popping around and pausing as a respite from the driving musical score. While I assumed that the work presented was improvised, given the group’s mission statement, recurring motifs such as a hover lift between the Nancy Carter and the Kat Kubichek Martinez provided anchors throughout. The ability to make conscious decisions regarding the overall piece’s thread aids outside viewers in accessing improvisation, and MoFo understands this well.

The last performance I saw was the debut work of newly-formed company Triptych Figures. Co-founders and performers Brooklyn Draper, Joshua Mora, and Monica Remes began with co-existing solo work. This morphed into seamless unison and then continued on as a distinct trio. While the three displayed their prowess as movers, I found the introduction of political voiceovers about tar sands extraction to be abrupt and difficult to relate to the movement unfolding onstage. Flyers advertising websites for the anti-tar-sands-extraction movement were handed out to the audience. Modern dance, still accused of being insular and self-indulgent, could use activism as its noble partner, and as Utahns, we additionally appreciate the grandeur of our land. However as an audience member, I crave a work in which elements actively collaborate, rather than just exist on the same temporal plane. The company defines a triptych as consisting of a set of three things intended to be appreciated together, and I look forward to seeing Triptych Figures hone in on this in works to come.

It was wonderful to see local dancers and choreographers presenting work in an environment such as Craft Lake City. Being a part of the festival atmosphere with its wide array of attendees helps to further establish modern dance as a viable participant in Salt Lake City’s culture.

Amy Falls is a dancer, choreographer and performer based in Brooklyn, NY, where she has recently worked administratively with artists such as Keith Thompson.

dance-dance review


Dance, in its video form, comes across as tyrannical and forceful, a selective service. loveDANCEmore’s dance dance illuminates an investment that viewers make in order to experience the luster of a piece, whether they contort their own body to see it, or sit hypnotically after gleaning the last leg of the piece in order to faithfully imbibe the entire video. Dance for the camera implores us to give ourselves to its respective States, to situate us in its hierarchy.

“Blue in Tunisia/Dance in a Window,” by Andrea E. Woods, displays a woman in a white dress who dances playfully with the musical accompaniment, in a window frame. As she works within the confines of the frame, the camera-angle subtly induces me into my own verisimilar, uncomfortable confinement: I see the frame at a tilted angle where the dancer’s relationship to my sense of gravity is skewed, and I either acknowledge this discomfort, or perhaps crane my neck to comply with the screen’s logic. If I meander away from this large projector, the section in closet-like areas called “some other things” offers a chance to submit to the physical placement that each dance mandates—Adrienne Westwood’s “small films” casts me as the croucher above the stage as I peep inside a box. This microcosm ensconces two women who rearrange a table, chairs, and a rug atop pavement then switches to a clip of a woman on a hill whose skirt blows in the wind. Once I retract from the footage, I see transpositions of the furniture segment all in single instant of time in front of me in the form of five flip books that lay in front of me. I flip through each one in order to experience the dancer’s precise repetition of their rearrangement-movements; the dance’s structure tricks me into believing that I enable its five repetitions of movement to occur—yet, I only can because I’ve submitted to my role in its structure.

dance dance entertains the illusion of my privilege further: “NOBODY’S DARLING,” by Marta Renzi, depicts a man and a woman in an intimate dance with each other. Though sexually charged dance is commonplace, the setting generates a heightened sense of closeness between me and the dancers: Their sterile, rehearsal-like room simulates an actual rehearsal in a studio at which I am not present, physically. As the dancers caress each other with their movements, the woman in her sports bra, the man in his underwear, I experience the simultaneous sexual tension and comfortability that can (and often) occur between dancers who prepare for a piece, the foreplay that becomes the epilogue for a dance. In this way, the dance beckons my investment in it in the same way as pornography—I internalize its private sensuality through a conceptual, non-physical bridge. I can choose to watch, but “NOBODY’S DARLING” directs the ebbs and flow of my faculties once I do.

Karinne Keithley Syers’ piece, “Untitled (Perth Dickinson),” fabricates the fiction of soccer action figures dancing through the technique of stop action filming. The headless of the two highlights the absurdist nature of the piece, a dance of the paralyzed and the dead; it sections off a pure dancing lexicon, devoid of the act and performance of dance, yet stands, unequivocally, as dance—a poem on paper, the absolute word. Additionally, Betty Skeen perpetuates video dance’s absolutism with her piece, “Eidolon.” Although this video exhibits a real dancer, Skeen’s reversal of the dancer’s slides and rolls in a concrete skate park, in contrast to the forward motion in the piece, indicate the dance’s materialization of the impossible and its ability to dictate the fallibility of my own logic. Despite that, in historical reality, the work is comprised of different, forward-moving clips that Skeen has manufactured to move backwards, the piece nonetheless directs my viewing through and around the dimension of time. Thus, the components where the dancer’s feet lead her to slide up a cement quarter pipe momentarily jerk me to and fro in linear reality, where I am at the mercy of “Eidolon”’s world of mirrors that mandate one visual-temporal perception.

Alexander Ortega is a contributor to SLUG magazine as well as a musician about town.