How does one get into aerial arts, anyway? It is no secret that one of the great problems of the performing arts is creating continuity. Not only continuity of style, and not only continuity of tradition, but also continuity of knowledge among practitioners as well as among audiences. For quite sometime in Seattle it has been fashionable among theater artists to talk about educating their audiences. The goal is noble but difficult.
On the surface, Kyle Abraham’s new dance work at On the Boards, Live! The Realest MC, seems to be about gay issues. It is a queer retelling of The Adventures of Pinocchio. The reality, however, is more complex. It is as much about how sex roles, gender and homosexuality are framed largely by the context of race as it is about individual struggle and acceptance. This brings up other questions of race, of course, but in ways that most of the critics of dance and theater–who tend to be white and largely bourgeois–do not care to grasp because such a discussion, too, would prove reality more complex than currently fashionable when it seems easier to reduce it to psychodrama.
In keeping with her art’s humble origins, Hayes and her husband Michael White Hayes drew their new art space’s moniker from a similar pool. “We were very deliberate about choosing the name Tin Can Studio. A tin can is a simple, common thing but it’s a very useful invention,” says Hayes. “It revolutionized the way people feed themselves. Tin Can Studio is like that tin can because art feeds people’s souls.”
Part of the exploration of the Seattle Chamber Players’ American Chamber Dance series aims to revive “rarely performed ballets conceived for chamber ensemble and dancers by maverick American composers.” Charles Tomlinson Griffes was certainly a maverick and his beautiful ballet is rarely performed–very rarely.
I quite liked the first half of Mark Haim’s X2 at On the Boards. It is an inventive use of space and time all linked by Louis Andriessen’s music De Tijd (Time), inspired as much by the Confessions of St. Augustine (which form its text) as by Morton Feldman. I’m much less keen on the second piece.
The Cabiri unite teamwork, effort, sweat, and concentration to pursue their art and hone it to its finest. That the group are not regularly celebrated by Seattle’s performing arts pundits, much less by Seattleites at large, strikes me as a miscarriage of justice. With their emphasis on creating spectacular shows for all ages of people, The Cabiri deserve a much larger and much more faithful following
One of the difficulties of assembling an accurate history of jazz is dealing with the subject of improvisation. Lacking a real system of notation, improvisation passes from teacher to student through direct practice alone and is difficult to reproduce. Dance also shares this problem. While there are various systems of notation for dance, these often narrow the range of expressive options rather than opening them up. Yet with a bit of humility and a sense of playfulness, one can approach the subject of notation as a playground for inspiration.
Dancers face the very same challenges as theater groups. Rehearsal space, performance space, support funding and so on. But quite unlike their counterparts in the theater, dancers tend to gather together out of necessity and fix their problems from within. Marlo Martin rose to a challenge in 2010 by starting the BOOST Dance Festival.
Using the barest of elements in extraordinary combinations, Make/Believe produces visually and sonically striking imagery that grows and grows in intricacy, the way that music grows from the simplicity of a heartbeat, or language itself grows from scratches and dots on a Sumerian jar. Make/Believe is a succession of gorgeous images revolving around the idea of what it means to communicate, not only with others but also with oneself–or what one takes oneself to be.
Part of the brilliant UW World Series of Music and Dance, Shen Wei Dance Arts has been hailed as “startlingly imaginative performance for forward-looking audiences.” Test the superlatives out for yourselves. It’s been awhile since Shen Wei Dance Arts brought their Rite of Spring and the beautiful Folding to the Meany, so it is nice to have them back.