Jumpin' in the Gene Pool

February 26, 2008

Hi, DS readers! So this past Friday night, I went to the annual “Gene Pool” showcase at NYC’s Dance New Amsterdam, which is where faculty from this downtown mostly-modern dance studio have the chance to present new work–often using students. I was really anxious to go for a couple of reasons:

1) One of my regular teachers (who I’ve also performed with a few times in the past year), Jana Hicks, was presenting a piece and lots of my dancing friends were in it! It’s always great to support your friends in their endeavors.

2) Monica Bill Barnes, who we introduced to you in our February issue as one of 8 modern choreographers you should know, also had a work-in-progress on the program. I hadn’t seen Monica’s work before, and as Abby has been raving about her, I definitely was interested in checking her out.

The show definitely didn’t disappoint. Jana’s piece, “Dissonance,” was great–a very high-energy “pure dance” piece with lots of partnering. I also enjoyed Diane McCarthy‘s work “Painted Lives,” which featured works of art projected on the back wall that the dancers brought to life, both by mimicking the poses of the people pictured and by imagining the emotion and story behind the paintings. Monica’s work, “Small Statements,” had a political edge. It began with a soloist dancing to a recording of John F Kennedy’s inaugural address from 1961, and then, to the audience’s surprise, brought out a group of young girls (I’d say probably ages 5-9!!) to sing The Eagles’ hit song “Desperado”! The juxtaposition of “serious” modern dance taking place to the score of kids singing live was both amusing and powerful. I can’t wait to see how this work-in-progress develops!

But the highlight of the evening came, as sometimes happens, from a technical error. The fourth work on the program, “She’s Crazy, I’m Not” by Carol Dilley & Jill Eng, started off as a fairly straightforward modern duet…. until the music began to skip, and then just stopped. The pair started over, but when the music stopped again at the same place, they simply continued to perform the rest of the piece while carrying on a conversation with each other and the audience! “It worked perfectly in dress rehearsal,” one of them said while suspended in a handstand. “This is the part where we start to get tired,” the other confided during a high-energy section that had lots of running and jumps. Other tidbits of info we never would have learned were it not for the technical gaffe: “I have a knee injury, so I’m just marking this part.” “We cut out this part originally because the piece was too long.” “We call this the ‘fishing’ move.” (said as one woman seemed to yank the other across the room with an invisible string) And, of course, “this part goes really well with the music. Bum, bum bum bum… ba bum!”

They chatted the whole time, finished the piece to a standing ovation… and my seatmates never even realized anything had gone wrong! They thought the music had stopped on purpose, that the work was supposed to be performed to text rather than a musical score. That, guys, is professionalism at its best. Loved it. 🙂

catch ya later,