The long anticipated modern dance event, Off the EDGE, took over downtown Atlanta this weekend, January 27th– 28th, 2012. The main stage performances took place at the Rialto. But as a pre-show treat at 6pm, a sister series of free site specific performances played out in Woodruff Park. EDGE/Public, curated by Atlanta-based cultural critic Paul Boshears, provided a vehicle for local artists to participate in this laboratory of cutting edge movement exploration.
Friday night, we arrived early and were able to walk 2 blocks to the park. As we approached, a dancer in peach, with a lace collar, was using a short wall as a bench, to push and lunge from and eventually lay on in the surrounding vegetation. Movement in the corner of my eye switched my focus to dancers across the street. Another soloist was carving through the space. Nearby, a quartet, two of which were handi-able dancers in wheel chairs, amazingly made their way on and off a platform. They drew the audience in with their somber yet electric mood and kept the viewers on the “Edge” as dancers of all abilities rolled backwards, carried and threw themselves at each other. Off to the right by the fountain, an entire company was militantly stomping and jumping in front of a movie screen.
The air was cold, but the creative energy surrounding the park kept the audience moving and engaged. Being a modern dance baby myself, I felt at home and had to resist the urge to interact with the dancer in peach. In retrospect, I probably should have joined in.
The performances underway were from Full Radius Dance presenting the theme of ‘surviving survival’, SCAD artist Bernard L. Jackson’s group piece “Water Wall Tango” and solos from Staibdance. This elite list of Atlanta performers also includes SCAD Atlanta professor Casey Lynch, who built a time-based sculpture in collaboration with the occupants of the Park. There are new works by LIFT, Out of Hand Theater, and Wabi Sabi. The Haverty Object Group’s prepared a storefront creation called “Ritual Objects”. Georgia Tech. School of Architecture Professor, Judy O’Buck Gordon, fashioned a scale-bending structure.
Day 2 was a little more harrowing. Traffic was snail-like and to my great disappointment I missed all the wonderful work being presented in Woodruff Park. As Off the EDGE becomes more established, I would like to see the work being offered more than once. Perhaps the presentations can span four days or over a two weekend period. So if unpredictable life occurs, there are other opportunities for a dance junkie, like myself, to see all the work. Plus, the free events are simply wonderful for children, but the four hours of the park and the main stage performances is just too much.
EDGE/Pubic is a good idea and what I experienced was wonderful. Knowing what I know now, I will plan more strategically next year. Just keep the art coming.
The Movement In Stillness – “First Breath” by Travis Magee
“First Breath”, a new exhibition of photography by Travis Magee
The Frieda and Roy Furman Gallery
Film Society of Lincoln Center
There are these moments among skilled choreography and seasoned performances where you lose yourself. If you happen to be experiencing this, you will most probably hear a gasp or a groan. There is no language adequate to tell the tale later because they affect you in a primal, visceral way. These moments transcend language and are too intimate to describe. To those of you who don’t frequent the many exquisite dance events happening around the world today… this is the reason to see dance live! The bitter sweet dichotomy can perpetuate a frustration, that the experiences can’t REALLY be translated to anyone who wasn’t at the dance performances, sharing the adventure. These feelings lead to the question, “How do we bottle this?”
Dearly Departures: “A Long Way… A Longer Distance Call”
The Lucky Penny has become a cornerstone of Atlanta’s cutting edge dance and technology. Dearly Departures: A new dance by Blake Beckham and her impeccable motley crew of technicians and performers, at Georgia Tech’s DramaTech Theater, have created yet another night of artistic excellence
The little black box theatre, more of a trapezoidal space is reminiscent of the old train stations lined with a long illuminated bench Stage Left, an “Old Skool” telephone booth Stage Right and a Split Flap display board hanging above. The experience begins with a Rolodex scrolling sound as the Split Flap illustrates very slow, movie style, credits. This sets a mellow tone, allowing the audience to hunker down in our seats and get comfortable. The lights dim then flicker off, in a “cool” and unusual manner, foreshadowing the unexpected and poetic experience to come.
The clickety clack of the display is overtaken by ambient music and lights go up on dancer Alisa Mitten. She smoothly makes her way around with long relaxed movements, allowing her fingertips to initiate her locomotion. As we watch, the Split Flap is feeding us contemplative ideas to ponder as the action unfolds.
“Away… Way back… Go… Go… Go back.” And a repeated mantra of “Begin again” & “Begin & End.”
T. Lang: A Woman Searching
The raw space at the Goat Farm is set up with four see through scrims hanging from the ceiling, situated in a square, to separate the performers from the audience. Seats are arranged in the round, meaning all the way “a round” where the action was about to take place. The first question of the evening is to figure out which side of the room we want to experience this evening from. Obviously, there is no right or wrong… just questions.
On June 7th, I found myself asking a lot of questions at the World premiere of T. Lang Dance Company’s performance of Post Up. The cast of nine extraordinary women were uniformly exposed in white bras and cherry red leggings. The uniformity brought to mind a complex woman or many women in a similar situation, perhaps battered or in a prison. An inquiry later enhanced by zig-zagged projections on the fabric we were looking through. The tastefully sparse costumes highlighted the performers’ beauty and I was reminded of how majestic women are, in all iterations, with different curves, hair lengths, textures and hues of skin.
The tone in this screened in cage was desperate, sad and played with themes of struggle and vulnerability but through it all a feminine strength became apparent. Not only through the athleticism of these prodigious artistic athletes but in an instinctual comradery that naturally exists between woman, especially at times of crisis.
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