The conversational stylings of Joe Goode graced the stage at Georgia Tech’s Ferst Theater. Every now and then you get an artist who gives something else, something UN-catagorizeable. I would describe this piece as a full length dance theater production.
The Rambler (2011) starts off with Goode, himself, casually strolling on in his white suit and cowboy hat. He chats with us, as though having a conversation over coffee. He reads three poems. In the first, he talks about how dancers should never speak. The second becomes about the process and the third take us into the event of the evening with a personal account on hitchhiking.
In white the dancers enter the stage. The first time we see The Rambler character, he is a stereotypical version of himself, in a poncho and cowboy hat. The soft, athletic and tactile movement of the ensemble becomes the landscape in which he travels through. Instead of many sets, a unique use of the curtains also helps create the illusion that distances longer than the width of the stage are being traveled through. Two black sets of curtains are utilized. The one that closes together in the middle and the one that drops down from the ceiling. Using both together creates boxes of action or doorways and windows to peek through.
Another element that sets this performance apart is the fact that the dancers are not silent. They speak, sing, chant and provide their own plot twisting soundtrack. The harmonies are really beautiful and it creates an intimate environment where I felt like I was the only one in the house.
As the play evolves, we see that The Rambler character depicted in different shapes and forms. There are vignettes of little rambler stories. There is the Clint Eastwood type, Melecio Estrella, who wanders through the desert singing , “Going away…leaving today” with the word “again” being chanted underneath. There is an anxious little guy, Andrew Ward, who vigorously rubs his hands together announcing that when he gets there, wherever that is, “…it will be awesome!”, “…sick”, “…tight”.
The gentler sex, a debatable topic, is represented as well. Patricia West declares that women have to be present and don’t have the time to entertain thoughts of wandering. There is just too much to do. She explains that she can’t ramble over making breakfast, getting kids to school, tending to the Sick and cleaning the “DAMN” house. Then there is the sexual rambler, played by Damara Vita Ganley. Looking like a sophisticated Mother Ginger, she describes all her funny little lovers in her funny little French accent. She announces, “Fidelity is for children.”
Some of the most powerful moments, were created in collaboration with puppeteer Basil Twist. The curtain slides stage left to reveal a woman, Jessica Swanson, at a table on a desolate beach. She is the product of a rambler and in her story she compares herself a natural disaster. Similar to the setting she sits in. Her story reoccurs and each time we see different parts of her body covered in a papier-mâché material, until she is just a shell of her former self. Eventually she takes it off and leaves it behind.
The full length evening’s work was powerful yet gentle. The movement was luscious, well crafted, thought provoking and pulled at our heartstrings. The dancers expertly melted into each other, creating the landscape with which the characters traveled.
I have heard more often than I would like lately, that dance is an intimidating art form. Dance is meant to be seen, enjoyed, experienced and talked about. It’s all part of the process, but definitely not feared. Joe Goode and his company were successful in telling a story, breaking down theatrical barriers and demystifying the art form. This was a wonderful concert and an experience I would characterize as High Art. My only complaint was attendance. The house wasn’t even close to full. Where were you, Atlanta? Georgia Tech’s Ferst Theater brings some of the most exciting contemporary artist to town. As a cultural metropolis, we want this to continue and the artists to come back. So if you didn’t know, I am telling you now, make sure you check out what is happening at the Ferst.
(photo credit RJ Muna)
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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