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Wild Space’s ‘Wild at 30’ Celebrates a 30-Year-Old Dance Family

May. 9, 2017
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Photo Credit: Tom Bamberger

Wild Space Dance Company founder and choreographer Debra Loewen appeared as an audience member in one of the many comic episodes of Wild at 30, her company’s wonderful three-night, 30th anniversary performance bash last weekend. She’d staged her current dancers in a section of audience seats where they executed extravagant movements expressing, as likely as not, what an individual might experience while viewing some risky new work of the sort Loewen makes. Loewen had come for the show. She didn’t stay long.

A group of actual audience members sat on the actual stage, watching and laughing. A second silent audience group sat behind them onstage facing backstage where, sharing the same accompaniment of echoing footfalls, older dancers slowly un-scrolled strips of text across a dull black wall in the simplest of lighting: “Learn to make do with what you have.” “Forget about tomorrow until it comes.” “Understand that you are not alone.” Other older dancers executed deeply powerful movements in response, free of irony.

Two further scenes and some mysterious hauntings were encountered by, all told, four audience groups as each group travelled separately through the Next Act Theatre building. Rather like opening credits, two tumbling dancers bundled in snowsuits found, among the snowy cushions of a lengthy stuffed couch in the lobby, the materials to construct a tiny diorama announcing a Wild Space dance concert. In a rehearsal room, founding members David Figueroa, Jennifer Goetzinger and Tom Thoreson, each profoundly present, carefully created a goofy dessert and fed the audience. Meanwhile, two of their talented successors in the company, Yeng Vang-Strath and Molly Mingey, snatched bites and reveled, respectively.

“Little did I know 30 years ago that I would be here and still standing,” Loewen told the audience from the stage after the break, thanking them and crediting the many who’ve journeyed with her. A potpourri of works early, recent and brand new followed, performed by company members from each decade. It was interesting to see the counter culture sensibility and physical theater style of the early work give way to a no less impassioned and evocative pure dance style. Choreographic choices simultaneously oddball, tender and wise abounded. Most of all, the show made clear that for 30 years Wild Space has been home to performers of great character. The bonds remain palpable. Loewen matter-of-factly arrived for her curtain call with boxes of just-delivered pizza for her whole extended artist family.

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