This weekend my world turned upside down, turned inside out, and turned a few chaînés.
Big Dance Theatre’s Short Form, their 25th anniversary program, was the offending piece of art.
Except it was anything but offensive. I have never wanted more of something so strongly when it was over.
I’ve been a dancer since I was four years old. Dance has always been a source of relief and freedom for me. I trained for many years and still sometimes take a class here or there, but school has pushed dance classes to the wayside. I’ve felt for a while like maybe my theatre self and my dancer self don’t get to co-exist anymore. I’m aware that I’m not good enough to be a professional dancer, and I don’t really want to be. But I don’t want to let dance slip out of my life. When I encountered Big Dance this weekend, I started thinking that maybe I don’t have to.
As I watched Big Dance Theatre this weekend, the younger me who was always better at storytelling than endless fouettes rejoiced. Here were a group of dancers doing the very thing she always felt like maybe she could do. They were professionally trained, seasoned, and Bessie-nominated, true, but the expressiveness! The commitment to storytelling over everything! The mirroring of movement and emotion! It was a thrill.
Each of the 6 pieces told its own story (especially the one that took the form of a 15 minute intermission party with mini hot dogs and twister). The stories were not clear, not spelled out or explained with dialogue. The mystery of the movement was compelling. Why was the man putting on a tutu and clapping in sequence? Why was that lady putting her feet in a bucket while a bag of ice hung from the ceiling, dripping slowly? Figure it out on your own! I felt like I was watching a case study in movement.The short form structure allowed for exploration, experimentation, and presentation of a variety of answers.
Having recently studied Annie-B Parson and Paul Lazar for a class project, seeing their work in person was a gift. Reading about their work online was not anywhere near as useful as experiencing it for myself. There really is no way to quantify their work because it defies words. The scope of their work cannot fit into language because it exists in the body first and foremost. Annie-B’s choreography is inventive, bizarre, and stirring. Paul Lazar rocks a powdered wig like very few people can.
I danced all the way to the ICA, before I really knew what I was in for. I danced during the pre-show talk. I danced to my seat, I danced in my seat. I danced through the 15 minute intermission/dance party/twizzler break. I danced all the way home. Big Dance Theatre made me vibrate with excitement and energy and passion for dance. It may have been Big Dance Theatre’s birthday, but Short Form was their gift to me.