Friday, February 8, 2008

Dance: Chunky Move's Glow at The Kitchen

I'm ashamed to say that I was less impressed by the show than my dinner prior at The Red Cat (where they did something astounding with grilled endives, melted cheese, and balsamic vinegar), but considering the fact that the dinner was longer, more expensive, and less mannered, I suppose it's forgivable. What can you really expect from a 20 minute, $8 dollar performance, with only one (seemingly inexhaustible) dancer?

Don't get me wrong. Kristy Ayre (or was it Sara Black? The program is somewhat ambiguous. . .) danced her bloody brains out, and she was amazing—energetic, strong, lengthy, and almost disturbingly quick. The choreography was actually pretty interesting, being mostly floor-based, and in a parallel (rather than the typical perpendicular) engagement with the floor. The music (listed somewhat pompously as "sound design" in the program) was interesting and complemented the movement well.

So what was the problem? Well, I would have liked more of all that, and less of the gimmick—the "glow." The piece places the dancer on a white square in the middle of the Kitchen's black box, and a ceiling-mounted projector points down at her. While she spins and writhes and stretches across the floor, the projector, using motion-detecting software, projects different patters (think of your childhood Spirograph) on the floor all around her body. At intervals, the type of pattern would change, and while there were a few moments that I quite liked (in one, the "stage" was all dark with tiny pinstripes and pinpoints of light passing through, and the music matched the planetarium-like tone; the dancer's body could only be seen where the rationed light passed over her), but for the most part, the glowing was a tiresome distraction from the dancing.

Additionally, toward the end of the piece, the choreography became more aggressive—the dancer found some perpendicularity, and began to make choreographed noises—heavy breaths and growls—and grimaces. I have always been of the opinion that dancers should be seen and not heard, and, excepting Ralph Lemon's Tree, I have never seen a dance that involved dancers making sounds in which the sounds were not ugly and distracting. Ugliness might have its place it art, but only when it enhances a depth of emotion and thereby beauty (c.f. Egon Schiele's despairing portraits).

No comments: