Danceworks is Available for ‘Take Out’ Throughout the New Season
Opening night generally ends a process, but Dance In or Take Out?, the collection of older dances and one premiere that opened Danceworks Performance Company’s 20th season, begins one. The dancers plan to perform them, free and open to the public, all over the city for the rest of the season. “We want to interact with individuals that otherwise wouldn’t have access to the work we do, in unexpected spaces like coffee shops, bridges, skywalks, cafeterias, museums, libraries, etc.,” Artistic Director Dani Kuepper writes in her program notes, adding, “Share your idea for a unique place to ‘takeout’ a dance at #DPCTakeOut!”
Each dance is an accessible, honest, straightforward piece that compels your attention. You experience the dancers as very different individuals and as a distinctive working collective. Kuepper, Kim Johnson and Melissa Anderson have danced together for a total of 50 years. Christal Wagner adds 10. Newer members Liz Licht, Alberto Cambra and Gina Laurenzi bring the number to 75 years of psychophysical connectedness. On the most basic level, you get to watch them up close, putting their bodies and minds on the line to create an ad hoc human community engaged in making sense of life.
I had such thoughts watching Sean Curran’s Force of Circumstance (2007), which opened the program. The five women dancers are vital, strong and individually skilled, while the democracy they constitute requires a profound commitment to, and acceptance of, interdependence. You see them share space and multiply energies. When one dancer circles her arms or legs around another and moves without touching, you can almost see sparks.
In Kuepper’s Landing Is Hard (2009), the relationship is less abstract. Kim Johnson and guest artist Bobby Miles give affecting performances. Initially, she’s the stronger; he’s dreamy, off balance. She remains committed, and he learns to return her care.
Kuepper’s The Stars Remembered What I Should Have Said (2015) and Christal Wagner’s Trying To Get Home are given magnitude by Kym McDaniel’s film backdrops—of shimmering stars, meteors and watery moonlight for Kuepper’s mediation on the infinite—and hard concrete viewed from beneath the Sixth Street viaduct for Wagner’s refection on homelessness and public space. Guest artist Desmond Cotton graces both pieces.
Emma Draves’ The Violet Hour incorporates classical Indian dance movement: a happy, sensuous style. Every value this company espouses is present in Kuepper’s solo performance of Li Chiao-Ping’s Refrain (1999). See it somewhere.