The only thing I look for in any choreography is honesty. Not that every choreographer needs to or should spill out their heart for all to see, even though that approach has its rewards, but rather that every work is done from a place of personal and authentic commitment. I have seen a lot of dance recently. And let me tell you, it seems easier to predict what is being copied the more I watch. When I see work that has been copied or is not clear at all in any way, i.e. does not resonate emotionally or technically, I so dearly want to grab the choreographer’s hand, look them in the eye, and ask: “Why? Why do you do what you do?”
Two shows recently performed at the ODC Theater stood out to me as emblems of darn good dance. Sarah Michelson’s “Devotion” and SF/Bay Area RAW took on honesty in different ways, but both were compelling and real. Michelson’s work was emotionally driven, investigating love, loss, highly involved narrative and God. RAW’s performance investigated our relationship to technology, exciting the audience with sexy images of highly fit dancers in silver spacesuits. For anyone that has seen either of these companies, they would be crazy not to agree that the work is executed so very intentionally and with pure clarity. Because dance is a language like any other language, how can choreographers expect their craft to be recognized or understood unless it is spoken clearly and truly?
Sarah Michelson’s work is obviously authentic to her. Even though her artistic collaborators play just as an important role, Michelson would be easy to detect; her commitment to characters, repitition, and just pure brilliance yell: “Michelson!” Also, cheers to our friends Ryan and Wendy for three sold out nights at ODC’S new theater last weekend. I was already impressed walking into the theater when I noticed the layout of the stage, but became even more impressed as the dancers sweat out one hour of highly technical movement, their movement, their stuff.
I believe it is easier to talk about bad things than good and easier to copy what you know. Cheers, kudos, brownies and trophies to the artists who not only take on the tremendous amount of work running a dance company entails, but to the time it takes to CRAFT one’s own work. I feel I am just beginning to speak to myself about this. To artistic honesty!