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The Walker Art Center's Choreographers' Evening

By Linda Shapiro

Choreographers’ Evening

McGuire Theater

Walker Art Center
Minneapolis, MN
November 29, 2008
Reviewed by Linda Shapiro

 

Photo: Cameron Wittig. The

evening's performers.

 

Click here for video clips

from the event.

 

This annual artist-curated event showcases dance in the Twin Cities. Sally Rousse, co-founder of James Sewell Ballet, assembled this year’s program of 13 dances, each under seven minutes. While nothing was audaciously innovative, the sold-out concert demonstrated a breadth of work from classic modern to martial hip hop. 


Lexicon of Something, by SuperGroup, refers to a slyly self-reflexive glossary of choreographic and performance strategies (“almost unison phrase; playing to the audience”) illuminated by an overhead projector.  Eight dancers in neon, hooded unitards embody these tactics with Laban-like incisiveness and deadpan humor.


Tamin Totzke and Dustin Haug’s The Evolution of Story references the juicy pedestrian gamesmanship of Trisha Brown’s Line Up, crossed with the wittily fragmented couples talk of David Gordon and Valda Setterfield. But these performers wrap their excellent young limbs (and tongues) around task-oriented mayhem and make it their own.


Orange Episodes
, by Judith Howard, sends up the expressive/exotic dance of early moderns like Ruth St. Denis. Especially wonderful are Kristin Van Loon and Krista Langberg, earnest terpsichoreans who mime bird gestures and manipulate rivers of recalcitrant aluminum foil to the strains of Offenbach’s “Barcarolle.”

 

Revolution creates a playground from hell in which boy soldiers frolic and die. B-boys J-Sun, Sequel, and Daylight  (The Battlecats) morph the fluid contortions of break dance into troop maneuvers and violent death throes. Transmutation also characterizes Pramila Vasudevan’s A Desire to be Human, which passes classical Indian dance through the prism of a metamorphosis from insect to human.

 

In Right? Mary Easter manipulates a lifesize latex sculpture, by Joseph P. Brown, that resembles a flayed skin, while talking about stereotypes of strong black women with “tough old hide-nothing hides.” Her single-malt whiskey voice and sinewy moves carve out a richly nuanced character with plenty of attitude.


Taryn Griggs cycles through a pastiche of weirdly wired gestures and spasms in Chris Yon’s Teardrop Terror (Revisited). It’s a tour de force performance where Griggs moves with electrified intention through a cacophony of mixed messages.


The clear message delivered by this performance is that Twin Cities’ dance is alive and kicking in lots of directions.

 

Want to see for yourself? Watch a recap of the Choreographer's Evening here.