by Danell Hathaway
In its second installment, loveDANCEmore’s Daughters of Mudson proves to be a viable resource for artists who not only value the investigative nature of choreography, from inception to presentation, but who dare to reexamine and refine their work, allowing the audience to be privy to both the successes and challenges of the process and product in an intimate way. The stripped-down, streamlined yet “rough around the edges” feel of the studio theater of the Rose complimented the craft of movement, cultivating a vulnerable, visceral and ultimately, symbiotic evening of living art.
Though a variety of aesthetics and artists were presented, many converging choreographic devices emerged early on, ranging from nostalgic musical scores to the use of repetition and motif to create specific structures. These unintentional but recurrent markers gave the audience a through line, suggesting a “choreographic formula,” which, depending on one’s viewing palette, was informative and fully investigated.
“Skewered: An unrelated summation of the whole” by Efren Corado Garcia and Tara McArthur revealed several tantalizing vignettes as a disjointed relationship between them unfolded. Emphasized by mobile lights and building to a satisfying unison phrase and a final “face-off” pose, the piece dissected, restricted and obstructed the body through a puzzle-piece narrative. The shadows thrown on the stark walls added another texture and would be a welcomed exploration as it could further the interplay between the dancers and light.
The luscious improvised movement of Josie Patterson-Halford’s “point b” was captivating as the repetitive sweeping of the arms, expressive torso, exquisite lines and attention to each movement complimented the sound score which reflected upon a new mother’s hopes, fears and wishes for each defining moment of her baby’s life. Patterson-Halford’s use of diagonal line and one entrance and exit point with a continual build onto established movement solidified the connection between the relationship. At one point, Patterson-Halford began removing articles of clothing, suggesting either a shedding or giving of one’s self. As only two socks and one layer of a shirt was removed, the gesture seemed to be more of an after thought than a poignant exhibit in context to the text.
“Temporary Triptych” by Katherine Adler, in collaboration with four dancers, also drew upon entrances/exits and the traveling diagonal to survey a quirky collection of random connections. With dancers in jeans and Bob Dylan music to boot, the piece felt like an alternative, tongue-in-cheek Gap commercial. The movement was endearing and surprising at times; complete with encoded gestures, smirks, tiptoed shimmies and many, many vivacious stag leaps.
Being able to see both first drafts and final performances of “Mi Corazon” by Eileen Rojas and “Neils” by Ashley Anderson was intriguing and gratifying. Both choreographers’ use of repetition, musical selection, strong focus/facings and counterpoint helped set the foundation of each piece; however, each choreographer fleshed out their investigations in very different ways. Rojas’ internal dialogue portrayed through simplified gestures asked the universal questions, “Why do we love who we love?” while examining the driving force between interpersonal relationships. The repetition of the fingers incrementally tracing down the centerline of the body had a lasting residue, much like the overlaying text on a particularly engrossing sound score. Just as Eileen and partner Nathan Shaw approached movement with a perceptive, palpable touch, so did the subject matter, asking the audience to continue the conversation long after the piece concluded.
Anderson’s masterful use of counterpoint and analogy to songs performed by artists who all share the name of Neil was a highlight of the evening. Using similar structural configurations as the other pieces, Anderson’s playful way of taunting the audience with subtle interjections of irony (like horribly loud colorful sweaters and random bursts of oddly-crafted gestures) helped keep the piece fresh, mischievous and lively. The piece included songs by Neil Sedaka, Neil Diamond and Neil Young, each song highlighting one dancer while the others completed tasks; each round, though, included a slight change in order, direction, movement or energy, keeping the mind alert to the many different versions at play.
At just under an hour and showcasing an eclectic array of artists, Daughters of Mudson is an accessible and refreshing reprieve; it creates a fine balance between process and product and continues to support the innovative dance artists in Utah.