Foreshadowing the evening to come, the title of the Chicago Dancing Festival‘s second consecutive free night of dance, MCA Moves, proved to be right. The night was Move’s. Richard Move, Artistic Director of Moveopolis!, TEDGlobal 2011 Oxford Fellow and impersonator of the iconic Martha Graham, hosted the program as Graham. With costume changes, quips and quotes, he offered insights littered with history into her persona by becoming – in spirit, cadence and mannerisms – Martha. Joined by two young dancers (Deborah Goodman and Sandra Kaufman), he/she led a class Graham technique mini-class (“contract, release, repose”) and later performed his solo Lamentation Variation, an homage to Graham’s version commissioned by her company in 2007. Quite frankly, he stole the show. (Honestly, any show that starts with a dude in drag as emcee – I’m in!)
There were two shows this evening at 6pm and 8pm. I attended the second showing. Two pieces from Monday night’s opening gala performance were on the program – Shaker Interior from Snow on the Mesa (1995) by artist from Martha Graham Dance Company and Brian Brooks Moving Company‘s duet from MOTOR (2010). One I liked more the second time around and the other less. The precision athleticism of MOTOR that enthralled on Monday wasn’t there. The men were out of sync and looked tired. Perhaps, two shows back-to-back for this number was too much. Shaker Interior, by contrast, seemed more subtle and fragile this time. The female dancer (Xiaochuan Xie) performed the piece topless, which made more sense contextually than the white leotard she wore on Monday. There is a moment when she is kneeling on the floor with the man (Tadej Brdnik) sitting on a bench next to her and she slowly lifts her hand up so the back of it lightly touches his back and he moves ever so slightly in acknowledgement…it’s breathtaking.
Lucky Plush Productions piece Habituation (2010) incorporated everyday gestures and humor to deliver a clever dance about how they make dances. Faye Driscoll‘s If you pretend you are drowning I’ll pretend I am saving you is an excerpt of a work-in-progess not…not (2011). More performance art than technical dancing, she and Jesse Zaritt tackle the strange and sometimes awkward developments in a male/female relationship. Using their breath as music and a triangle of hot pink duct tape (did anyone else think this was a sexual reference?) as the stage parameters, they flirted, climbed, humped, bumped and writhed through their quirky attempt at a sexual bond. Sometimes funny, sometimes wtf? I’m not sure about this one. I’d like to see it again in the context of the entire work.