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A Parade of New Performers ‘Get It Out There’

Choreography, film, hip-hop and more at Danceworks event

Jun. 21, 2016
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Get It Out There is a Danceworks-sponsored chance for Milwaukee performing artists to test short works before small audiences in a professionally lighted studio theater. Audiences are invited to jot down first impressions on paper during the break that follows each number; these are given to the artists. Seventeen performances, mostly dance, were arranged into two separate programs, each presented twice. It was a lot to absorb, but the radically shifting styles and subjects and the parade of new performers held me.

Many of the artists were young, of course. I picture them, years from now, reflecting on this work: Remember when we danced together for the first time? When we filled the room with pink dust? When we tied ourselves together with fabric and fought and you abandoned me? When I began to understand the force of childhood friendships? Began to understand the valiant grandmother whose genes I carry? Understand the way ballet technique has given me both power and responsibilities? 

In Kelsey Lee’s funny-angry “Logged Out,” dancers spoke inanities and repeated deliberately truncated movements until Lee destroyed her cellphone with a hammer. In “Buoyant Ties,” Marissa Jax explored possible relationships with bouncing, deflating or popping balloons that symbolized, well, you name it. Comic Dana Ehrmann, 23, imagined dying from a dearth of hugs.

Filmmaker-choreographer Kym McDaniel’s “Thought Trains” was a sophisticated experiment: Grave-shaped rectangles of white light on the floor came frighteningly to life through filmed black images that tattooed the dancers moving in them. In “Grass is Greener,” Posy Knight and Kirk Thomsen poked hands, feet and heads through grave-sized rectangles of Astroturf like Beckett clowns reminding us that every fleeting moment offers choices. “You’re going to reap just what you sow,” sings Lou Reed in “Perfect Day,” the song that accompanied Kelly Radermacher Butts’ perfectly acted, devastating dance as a woman with mental illness; it left me in tears.

Milwaukee’s strong hip-hop dance community was well represented. Clayvon Savage and Terrence Morris Jr. led the Poison D crew through a hurricane of fast moves, showing dazzling technique and individual charisma. Emily Landry led six women from SueMo II in a stand against conformity that respected the cost of going it alone. Gabi Sustache made the style a natural expression of her spirit. Nanya El Madyun Wilson danced with uncontained pain and then stood in darkness holding a flame to honor the LGBTQ community and the victims of the Orlando massacre.

NOTE: In Touch, a showcase of experimental dance and film curated by Kym McDaniel, will be presented Friday, June 24 at 8 p.m. at The Polish Falcon, 801 E. Clarke St. in Riverwest. Visit intouchmke.weebly.com for further information.

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