Tuesday, September 14, 2004

monstersquad under the lights 

it took me until now to have a chance to post something for yesterday's conclusion of monstersquad, but i'm glad i haven't done it up until now, because, as i heard at today's lively and thought-provoking noontime chat with "performance journalism" panel joseph gallivan (portland tribune), steffen silvis (willamette week) and catherine thomas (oregonian), sometimes a reviewer wishes for more time to think about a piece.

the first two parts of monstersquad drew me in swiftly and whole-heartedly and i was seeking the same feeling yesterday, but it didn't happen the way i expected. but that's the point, to let go of these expectations - to realize and embrace the fact that there truly will be twists, turns and surprises during TBA. sunday's section with flour wrapped me in an easily-readable narration. monday's piece started with sunday's remaining two dancers continuing their steps and i looked for the story to continue with them, but, for me at least, the narration soon ended. menomena's music started discordantly, perhaps distractingly, and it took more energy for me to pay attention to the dance. the lights dropping from the ceiling only distracted me more. i left machineworks thinking i had missed some meaning, patronizing myself with the thought that the concluding section was simply more focused on mood than narration. what i did notice, however, was the strength and the consistently-referred-to "momentum" of the dancers' movements. i was a amazed at their ability to support and lift each other just so they could be pushed down again and again. their dialogue, like the music, was the most raw and sensual of all three days.

today something catherine said made yesterday's performance seem to finally click in my head. she remarked on the progression of tahni holt -monstersquad's choreographer- and her artistic career in portland. she mentioned the community of dance here and their willingness to integrate other types of artists to help the community at large, obviously evident in this most recent collaboration with installation artists, designers and musicians. what it took me until to today to realize was just how inherent that collaboration was. "less than an hour" took all four forces - choreography and dance, composition and musicians, fashion design and costumes and installation idea and set - and mixed them up so seamlessly that i barely thought about each one independently. yesterday's conclusion simply, and deservingly, highlighted the driving force - the dance. it took me until yesterday to even think outside of the dialogue to notice each step going into it, to see, under the lights, the dancers' ability to tell a story of movement on their own. saturday and sunday beautifully melded the creative multi-layers to draw me in. yesterday's conclusion broke down that bond so i could realize just how intrinsic and incredibly powerful each layer was. and now...to cheesily conclude how i started, i once again insist that this aspect of monstersquad's piece - the seamless and incredibly complex collaboration of everyone involved - truly is the epitome of TBA.

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