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    MADboots dance co. in Dancenow 2012
    Photo by Steven Schreiber
    MADboots dance co.

    A DIfferent Flavor

    Dancenow Joe's Pub Festival downshifts for 2012


    Wow. Dancenow 2012, quiet and subdued? Is this the zeitgeist of anxiety and malaise, when national politics feels disconnected from the national good? A surprising number of choreographers avoided any irony or commentary and made pure movement pieces, romantic duets or inward-looking solos. Each night an audience vote selected a winner for the choreography that 'best uses the Joe's Pub space and fulfills the Dancenow spirit.' With only five minutes for each piece to make its case, the evenings moved along well.

    DANCENOW 2012

    Related links: Official site
    Joe's Pub
    September 5-8, 2012

    Some solos stood out, of course, and Adam Barruch did two the first night. He is a riveting mix of sharp and silent, big and quick, and chose two songs of lost love to angst about. More Wednesday: Donnell Oakley pairs with Xan Burley to make a cute, minimal duet about distraction and conversational superficiality, Nellie Rainwater pairs with Mandarin Wu to dance a fun, fresh-feeling duet that she has been making the Rounds with, to old-timey Woody Guthrie music, in matching bow-tie-tux t-shirts. Master performer Shannon Hummel pokes fun at her fear of aging and looking silly onstage by going full farce in Good Side, and the result is both funny and touching. Marjani Forté's I Won't Complain: Here... is powerful — a solo, reflected by two others who shiver and shake in fugue and sympathy, as fellow sufferers or, perhaps, angels. The interaction between the three is more like contagious waves coming from onstage, with small moments of synchronicity; it is a wonderful use of the Joe's Pub space, as the two "reflections" float and shudder through the audience, and one eventually makes it onstage with Forté. Maura Nguyen Donohue plays with an old Smiths song, just like everybody else does, shaking more in fun than in waves of pain, and teasing audience members near the stage. Surprisingly, Rubén Graciani was voted the nightly winner for a skin-baring, romantic duet of mild steam, danced by Jacob Goodhard and Emily Pacilio to classical music.

    Claire Porter/PORTABLES in Dancenow 2012
    Photo by Steven Schreiber
    Claire Porter/PORTABLES

    Luke Murphy toasted us in to Thursday night with Ghoeltacht, a silly, sunny, beer-in-hand solo with occasional big dancing between sips, displaying an Irish knack for fun, and pubs. More Thursday: Mei Yamanaka dances Well, a sad solo by Makiko Tamura to blorpy, spacey, watery music by Masakostu Takagi. Between gentle floating and quick collapsing, Yamanaka spends much of the time silent or crouching on the floor. The Anata Project duet Crooked Little Hearts charms with pretty, striking dancing and subtle humor, supplied by Sarah Sandoval and Zach Thomas; this romantic duet has flavor and substance. With large helpings of the same, Claire Porter/PORTABLES give At the Gate the full Porter treatment, skewering airport protocol, or its lack, in intense bursts of talk and gesture, with over-the-top humor delivered deadpan and on target. At the Gate won this evening's audience vote. For intriguing use of the space, Xan Burley + Alex Springer's 32-person mosh of a dance, Up is Not Up, gets a mention, too. It is a beautiful, funny mess, with the duo's absurdist but clear and clever humor enhanced by ragged human waves of movement and a clap-and-response intro led by Aya Wilson.

    Sara Joel opens Friday evening in cabaret mode, as an aerialist in/on a clear bubble chair, clad in a silver unitard with a disco-ball-decorated baby bulge. Keeping up the kitsch, the Good to Go Girls come on clad in coconuts and tinsel-grass skirts, packing tom-tom belts and sassy sashays, looking very much like the Dashboard Dreams that inspired them. And Amy Larimer concocts another character from the menagerie in her brain, unveiling Paula Flyer Mobius — workout Jane Fonda meets Clint Eastwood and his chair via Pat Benatar. Paula is Mobius because she can go over, under, and through(!) a chair, and Flyer because she wears a dashing cape and likes to strike superhero poses. If you haven't yet seen an Amy Larimer character, she will be performing as half of the Raving Jaynes in October. Love/Forté go to a darker place in the duet Tasting Memory, with a narrator and a black woman in whiteface(?) as the girl of the story, who "everyone knew what she was called, but nobody knew her name." The gist is clear, and the sentiment is powerful. The evening's winner, deservedly, is the male-male duet Go H.A.M., choreographed by Gregory Dolbashian and danced by Christopher Ralph and Daisuke Omiya. These two virtuoso movers play with being a bickering b-boy duo so responsive to music that when Mozart music appears, their bodies almost uncontrollably begin throwing in classical movement. What could be a trainwreck in weaker hands becomes gold here.

    The Dash: Christopher Ralph and Daisuke Omiya in Dancenow 2012
    Photo by Steven Schreiber
    The Dash: Christopher Ralph and Daisuke Omiya

    Saturday was an evening of sleek and stylized conflict, with beautiful movement almost trumping content. Kudos especially to dancers Gina Ianni and Brynt Beitman; Khaleah London; Rachel Fallon and Maleek Washington; Kile Hotchkiss; Christal Brown; and evening winners Jonathan Campbell and Austin Diaz, whose we duet has blossomed into a beautiful flower of a piece, full of trust, tenderness and bigsoft movement. And leading her piece with another striking flower image — no spoilers here — Deborah Lohse won the overall prize for her dark little solo in black wig, I Can Still See You, a piece few others could pull off and put on.

    A festival encore is scheduled for Saturday, September 15 at 7 pm to showcase the evening and overall winners.

    SEPTEMBER 14, 2012

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