photo by Karli Cadel / courtesy of ADF
The American Dance Festival
is in full swing, with performances across Durham, outdoor yoga on Duke’s East Campus, young students riding the psychedelic ADF bus and audience members showing the festival spirit. At the Pilobolus performance at DPAC on June 19
, I spotted one man with a shaved head in a beautiful, flowing, flowered skirt and combat boots, and another dressed in a Hawaiian shirt with binoculars held to his eyes.
You’d have thought it was a rock concert. This was appropriate, as an emerging theme of the festival is how other worlds, such as film, video and television—the virtual realities we confront daily—are colliding with dance.
The L.A.-based repertory company BODYTRAFFIC, for instance, includes several dancers with Hollywood credits. Among the three choreographers whose works were presented on June 16 at Duke’s Reynolds Theater
, one has a dozen film credits to his name, and the dances all had a full-frontal, TV-like stage quality, as if the camera were never far away. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Still, the standout was the more traditional O2Joy
, a jazzy piece with impressive footwork, high kicks, finger snaps, lip synching, a shuffle here and there, and the propensity to rise from the floor with power and ease.
Pilobolus presented four dances interspersed with film clips. Created in 1991, Sweet Purgatory
started with a video of mud-encrusted bodies in close-up. One premiere, Wednesday Morning, 11:45
, a dance-theater piece, included images of darkened figures behind a white screen. Again, two-dimensional realities encroached on our three-dimensional world. The other premiere, Thresh/Hold
, looked like an edgier scene from Game of Thrones
, all male bonding, female angst and conflict.
Heidi Latsky Dance
began with the new 13-minute film Soliloquy
, an unflinching portrait of diverse human bodies: their shapes, sizes and fates. Presented as a triptych, the film set the stage for Latsky’s dance works about inhabiting these bodies, being propelled through space and gazing upon each other. She has a fascination with point-counterpoint and light and dark, using the swing of an arm as punctuation and harnessing the power of continuous waves of motion. A downtown-Manhattan conceptual feel exists in Latsky’s work, but it lacks a critical narrative arc, which disappointed this critic.
The North Carolina choreographers program, “Here and Now: NC Dances,”
was a highlight. In excerpts from it’s not me it’s you,
Anna Barker demonstrated an easy way with complex movements, mixing in a humorous soundtrack. The piece was all about the vicissitudes of attraction. Meanwhile, Kristen Jeppsen Groves shined with [Me]thod
, which offered sophisticated use of space and the tensions inherent in political theater. Hers was a computerized, bureaucratic, virtual world—complete with TV/computer monitor on stage. Groves demonstrated how our 2-D realities and our 3-D selves are colliding, as our world moves toward an ever more visual future.