Wednesday, January 23, 2013

by Rodrigo Valenzuela
"It's not a line.
It's not a story.
There's nothing to get.
I don't have all the answers.
Every time I think I have it, the cards are shuffled again.
Archetypes in motion.

The airy High Priestess
The lush Empress
Eve, the original femme fatale,

When you woke up this morning, 
which one did you see in the mirror?

Which one did you want to see?

What are you willing to do 
to bring her to the surface?

And what if she doesn't come?
Who are you then?
Shuffle the cards.

The devil laughs at the chains we struggle against 
because he knows we forged them ourselves.
We land on a self image and consume ourselves daily 
in its perpetual reconstruction.
The cards shuffle again.

What does it mean to be strong?
Is it about will, force, power, domination...
Or is it about having the courage to do something crazy, 
just because we think it might make us happy?

by Phill Cabeen
We are in this together.

Treading water in a sea of integrity and illusion.

Riding waves of black and white, man and women, butch and fem, top and bottom, play and violence, personal and political, fear and desire, beauty and effort, obsession and love.

We dance to create a shore where these duality's are recognized to be two sides of the same coin.
Turn the card over again.
Me and you are not mutually exclusive.
We are in this together."

This text opened Fire! last weekend and interestingly the reviews of the work carried the same dualistic contradictions that the work itself was wrestling with.   
The Seattle Times called the work, “cool... beautiful” and  “sharply focused,” while the Sunbreak called it a “loose baggy monster”
Crosscut called the work, “an engrossing feast for the senses.
… a mysterious, wondrous universe that won’t be soon forgotten.”
While SeattleDances argued it was “not dramatic enough to be very remarkable.”
Jen Graves SLOG generously suggested you "run, not walk" to get your tickets but then in the same paragraph claims the work is both lacking in clarity and overly literal.
The Seattle Star calls the work, “brilliant” and “exquisite,” but
“Unresolved” while City Arts concludes that lack of resolution is a virtue, “Fire! presents a picture of women—independent, trapped, escaping, congregating—in a way that is esoteric. Why are they doing this? Where is it going? What’s the end result? Even that is open-ended. But perhaps we aren’t supposed to walk away with hard and fast conclusions. Perhaps we can just appreciate the dance for what it is—beautiful, expressive, emotional movement; a form of art where the body is both the means and the end.”

Personally, I agree with Dance Scholar Susan Manning that,
“The more contentious the conversation the more interesting…” so I am thrilled with the contradictions.  I am glad that CCC and OtB gave Seattle audiences something to talk about, whether they raved about the show- or it made them raving mad. 

As we move on into our next projects, everyone in CCC is stimulated by the questions Fire! revealed about answers we thought we knew...

Ironically, the one thing the reviews seem to agree on is that my performance quality was "distractingly compelling."  Many reviews claimed they couldn't look at the work as a whole because I so dominated the scene.  I have loved dance with all of my heart, for all of my life.  I'm glad the fruits of my efforts show to most people, however, these comments are also oddly offensive in this context.  When I started researching Niki de Saint Phalle, I was struck by how the reviews of her early shows were all about her physical presence, costume, body type... and barely about her work.  Perhaps my greatest nod to her in this work is not through the production at all, but rather through how it was perceived- as something that's worth, due to it being made by a female artist, lies only in the beauty of its maker. Saint Phalle banked on that- perhaps I do too- only I am conflicted by my consciousness of it being problematic.

"The male gaze theory forces the feminist dance scholar into a no-win situation that turns on an exceedingly unproductive "succeed or fail" criterion.  We expect the choreographer to topple a power structure that we have theorized as monolithic.  The dancer or choreographer under consideration will always be condemned as a reinforcement of the patriarchal status quo, despite any transgressive behavior, because, by definition, that which is communicated arises from within the fabric of culture, that is to say, within patriarchy." -Ann Daly 1992

The reason I do these projects that look back into history, is unfortunately, sometimes, to point out how little has changed.

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