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Only certain kinds of performances do well in a tiny space like Joe’s Pub. Humor does well up close. So does sex drenched in irony. Muscular, underwear-clad duets, not so much. Full-out dancing with a touch of glamour, yes. Actually, lots of dances are fun to watch up close, as long as they are short—which is DanceNow’s winning formula. I’ve rarely been bored at Joe’s Pub.
DanceNow’s Encore presentation last Saturday, presumably the best picks of the last week of the festival, was a happy mix where the ridiculous was sublime and the sublime, well, sometimes appeared ridiculous. Here are some highlights of the 13 dances shown.
Jessy Smith and the Good to Go girls, sporting tinsel skirts, coconut bras, and mini-drums perched on their hips, sashayed around to the Andrew Sisters’ “Rum and Coke” song. This little trio, titled Dashboard Daydreams, put us in the mood to chuckle in case the beer at Joe’s Pub didn’t.
Deborah Lohse in I Can Still See You.
All photos by Steven Schreiber, courtesy Joe's Pub.
Deborah Lohse would make a great Norma Desmond, cuz she was ready for her close-up with black shiny wig and white roses in I Can Still See You. She showed particular vigor when using her teeth to snap off a rose stem.
In Next Half Megan Williams seemed to grow from shy to exalted with the help of music by Debussy. In the context of Joe’s Pub, her crouches and reaches seemed almost risky. She was aiming high.
Claire Porter's At the Gate
It’s no surprise that Claire Porter/Portables were clever in her At the Gate. The five performers took the superciliousness of airline staff (“Your application to board has been declined”) and turned it into gestural heaven.
In an excerpt of Unbridled and Groomed, David Parker and The Bang Group clapped and tapped out a rhythm in fives (1-2-3-4-5) as seeming avoidance of each other but the quartet ended with a sweet embrace between Parker and Jeffrey Kazin.
Christal Brown in her Somewhere in a Memory
Christal Brown’s Somewhere in a Memory burst into full-out dancing as soon as she stepped off a ladder while Cassandra Wilson sang “Time After Time” on tape. How Brown managed to be both internal and glamorous I do not know, but I drank in the dancing.
Jordan Isadore (left) and TJ Spooner of Sara du Jour in Les Sara
If you’ve seen SARA du jour Concert on DanceMedia.com, you know how wonderfully bizarre Jordan Isadore can be. The guy is an original. His duet LES SARA was a sublimely hilarious blend of exhibitionist struts and suspicious looks. (See his winning Video of the Month here.)
The conceit of Go H.A.M. by The Dash/Gregory Dolbashian was that two guys who are supposed to be doing hip-hop keep falling into ballet as though into forbidden fruit. Each time either Christopher Ralph or Daisuke Omiya got stuck luxuriating in an attitude or arabesque, one had to stop the other and move on. When the music changed to Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, they settled into some kind of hybrid.
My thanks to DanceNow for encouraging all manner of dance imaginations in small spaces.