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Dancer With An Attitude

The Movement In Stillness – “First Breath” by Travis Magee

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Travis Magee’s photographs do just that, capturing a gasp in a bottle. He illustrates and arrests these virtuosic and delicate moments in his work with such elegance. Magee, being from the dance world himself, having danced with Lucinda Childs and Mark Morris, approaches his work like any good choreographer would, from having a company of trusted Dance Artists, to composing the movement with a crafted sense of and integrating a developed manipulation of time, space and design. Then… all the academic crafting of the projects seem to be thrown up in the air in order create extraordinary and ethereal photographs.

In his words he is ” …creating the work I want to see.” and I am right there with him.

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Dancer With An Attitude

Dearly Departures: “A Long Way… A Longer Distance Call”

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photo : Chris Carder
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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.”

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Dance

T. Lang: A Woman Searching

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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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Dance

A Trip on the Dance Truck Atlanta

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How do you take the food truck concept to an extreme? Why… make the truck a performance space, of course!

Atlanta is becoming a Mecca of experimental movement and Dance Truck made another splash in “The Movement” on June 28th at the Arts Exchange.  Their goal, “Bringing Dance to the People”.

Imagine a courtyard encircled by 6 trucks obviously each outfitted for a different purpose.  There was a food truck, an animation truck, performance spaces and an ambulance filled with a Willy Wonka-esque selection of delicious cakes.

The concept of Dance Truck was inspired, by co-founder Malina Rodriguez, to fulfill a need for alternative performance venues where space is either non-existent or to expensive for the artists use.

The evening’s work was as diverse as the trucks themselves and consisted of four pieces with a video installation interspersed during what would normally be intermission and a post show discussion.

First up was Urban Cutie, BEATRIX, a young performer who has fallen in love with the dance, and dance truck, culture in the city.  Partnered with choreographer Blake Beckham, they moved through Life Goes On: moments of boldness and separation. My own learning curve incomplete located way off to the side, I was only able to catch elbows and the top of heads until the work was positioned in the doorway.  What I saw was lovely and well executed for such a young performer.

Mistake corrected, I squeezed in towards the center of the group and was able to enjoy The Day After Today, created and performed by Kala Seidenberg.  The stoic solo with repetitive, manipulated phrases was well designed and considerate of the audience’s experience. She used the confined space well keeping her choreography downstage so even the late comers could see.

An androgynous, Erik Thurmond, opened the second half in white with a platinum wig covering 360 degrees of his head.  InYANG he inspired images of a cool, teenaged Cousin It, clubbing in a futuristic flash forward.  The piece was mesmerizing and rave-like keeping his undulating  phrases in one spot.  Halfway through he yelled “Go” startling the audience and momentarily interrupting the trance.

The show ended with an Atlanta Premiere performance by tEEth. Musician Phillip Kraft and Choreographer Angelle Hebert both entered the space.  Their collaboration, lover villian victim, was exactly that, a joyous… gone angry… gone tragic tale illustrated through live music, amplified vocals and an emotionally charged blend of dance and theatrics.  By the end, the tiny truck was busting with picturesque energy reminiscent of a Peter Greenway film.

Hooray for child friendly events.  Tiny humans under the age of 10 were FREE!  Spending money on Fancy Poodle Hot Dogs, Ginger Lemonade, Elvis Rice Crispy treats and having the tikes in tow is more valuable than paying a sitter and NOT exposing them to the rich culture Atlanta has to offer.

The irony of chasing art amongst parked vehicles was also not lost.  In fact, it played as big a role in the beauty and fun of the event.  This was my first Dance Truck event but it’s definitely not my last.

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