Review: ETC Performance Series November 2016

by Hannah Joo for The Dance Journal

The ETC Performance Series, held at the CEC Meetinghouse Theatre, welcomes performing artists to present their work and engage with audience members. Last weekend’s performance showcased a diverse range of dance, including hip-hop, modern, and tap.

Among the highlights were Adrianna Poindexter’s Café Au Lait. Poindexter and fellow dancer Gabriel Reyes did not hold back in their black stiletto heel boots and black and white outfits. Their style, confidence, and precision were hard to miss in a performance of hip hop and jazz influenced movement to Azealia Banks’ “1991.”

Sean Thomas Boyt’s presentation of It’s pointless to decide which cloud is floating faster was one of the most memorable of the night. In this self-reflexive solo performance, Boyt challenges the notion of what is considered dance while provided hilarious yet biting commentary on the life of a dancer. Boyt begins by simply staring at the audience for a long time before starting his monologue. He introduces himself and explains his day to day life – working a day job as a receptionist, teaching dance to middle and high school students, dancing and creating works with many local artists. He hands out printed resumes to the entire audience, outlining his long list of experiences and eliciting plenty of laughs from the audience, who can now read everything he has accomplished between the years 2004 to 2016. To end, Boyt incorporates brief moments of movement, all the while commenting on his own dance. This smart candid speech brought forward to the stage what happens behind the scenes.

Perspective, with dance and poetry by Amanda Edwards, brought an element of sensitivity and empowerment to the stage. In this piece, Edwards and dancer Mynesha Whyte, both black women, begin with a poetry about racism and questions its effects on power, pain, and resilience. They go back and forth, one reciting the poetry while the other moves, and at certain points, joining together in words and motion. As the music introduces a somber beat, Edwards and Whyte put on black hoodies as they dance, and they end lying on the floor, holding flowers to their chest. This image, both beautiful and painful to see, brings back a line from Edward’s poetry: So why is your bouquet is allowed to grow from flowers to trees while my roses and daises are picked like weeds from your garden? This is not your Eden to groom and destroy as you see fit.

Remote Dance Project’s Sucker presented an impressive commitment to technical movement. Choreographed by Stacia Slight and performed by Angela Gorman, Sarah Morrill, and Stacia Sleight. The energy and skill exhibited by the dancers was captivating to watch, and the choreographic choices kept me wanting more. However, I felt a lack of clarity between the dancers and the media involved in this piece. Sucker begins with a solo by Morrill. She wears white, and is soon joined by Gorman and Sleight, who wear black. Gorman and Sleight seem to be moving in sync, directing their strong gaze and motivation towards Morrill, who seems fragile and anxious. I’m unable to decipher the relationship between the three dancers. There is a sense of tension, but not enough that explains any sort of conflict or resolution. Morrill’s demeanor and expression remains the same in her ending solo, and her lack of change makes me wonder what her experience with the other dancers was supposed to be. All the while, there is a film that continues to play in the background. The camera steadily moves through the space, showing various views and angles of what seems to be an abandoned tunnel with graffiti all over the walls and rubble on the ground. The film did not support nor detract from the dance. It was simply there, and though it was aesthetically interesting, the video did not make a clear connection to the dance.

Other pieces included Boundless by Andrea Mychaels Dance Project, Splash and Little Party by Labyrinth Dance Project, Time Based Restrictions by Rain Ross Dance, Heart Again by Jessica Donley, and Shim Sham Remix by Uniting Colleges Through Tap.

***Photo courtesy of ETC Series

About Hannah Joo

Hannah Joo, a native of Los Angeles, moved to the Greater Philadelphia Area to attend Swarthmore College, where she recently graduated with a BA in Dance and Anthropology. When not in the studio, Hannah is involved in Dance for All Movement Therapy and Dance for Parkinson’s Disease with the Mark Morris Dance Group. Hannah is interested in culturally based dance forms, the reinterpretation of “traditional” performance, and arts as social change.

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