Bates Dance Festival final
seasonal concert: “Different Voices”

Schaeffer Theater, Bates College, Lewiston, Maine
Friday, August 8, 2008

A Review

It is not my practice to write a review a week after viewing a concert, but with no excuses I am breaking with my habit.

The first dance was an improvisation by Chris Aiken and Angie Hauser and musicians Tigger Benford and Jesse Manno. One cannot question the quality of the contact improvisation that we saw. And since it was an improvisation, perhaps one can forgive the lack of choreographic construction. However, I feel that choreography is a “felt” process; that is, the body knows where it has been and can direct where it will go, that a specific dance is a growth from a specific seed. And even in improvisation the sentient body will “know” the path to take. This sentience was lacking here.

The second work, a duet choreographed by Yutaka Joraku, I found disturbing and so I remember it. Two humans knocking each other about just didn't amuse me as it did the students in the audience. (I would guess it to be some kind of “in” thing.) Further, I found the costume, a parody of that of a sumo wrestler, uncomfortable and untidy. That I remembered it perhaps says something for it.

Much of the program seems to have been serious, earnest stuff, speaking for the various causes we all champion. That I cannot specifically recall any movement or moment might speak for the ineffectiveness of their pleas.

I do recall Step Touch, choreographed and performed by Jennifer Nugent and Paul Matteson. With familiar music arranged nicely by Christopher Lancaster and Allison Leyton Brown, the dance was clear, well composed, and all together pleasant.

Then we were treated to the horrors of the torture of Saint Paul the Hermit, graphic with no resolution. True, it was listed as work in progress, and I might grant that the subject matter may make a dance drama in the manner of some of Graham's pieces, but as seen that evening it was just plain distasteful to say the least and most grueling for audience members who "move" with the dancers.

All this being said, the Bates Dance Festival does bring us a smorgasbord of what is current in the world of dance. For this we affectionados are most grateful. And we do know that if we loved it all, our world would seem flat indeed.

—Ruth Grauert, August 15, 2008


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