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Printz Dance Project and Siamsa Tire

by Becca Hirschman

November 7, 2008 -- Cowell Theater, Fort Mason

Stacey Printz’ local dance company collaborated with the National Folk Theater of Ireland, Siamsa Tire, to bring an inspired program to Fort Mason’s Cowell Theater this past weekend. Both companies alternated segments with a big bang of a finale, which featured a lighthearted work that sprung from their collaboration last summer in Ireland.

Printz Dance Project opened with the earthy “Urban Primates.” With Laura Sharp flapping and wringing her arms and back with animalistic passion, the black-clad group got off to a raucous start with monkey-like squats, rhythmic bouncing, and wild arm-waving. Dudley Flores’s fresh, carefree style stood out in all he was cast in, but especially with Jenni Bregman and Katie Aggen in the playful romp about an evening with an orange pillow in “Dark Spaces/looking through windows” (excerpt). Printz herself made a quick appearance in the prologue from “Prague” (excerpt), which focuses on ghettos, art, and culture. The brief 10 or so minute snippet didn’t do “Prague’s” intricate pairings or premise the justice it may deserve. Unusual for a small company, “Prague” featured original live music by Jon Sung on violin and beatboxer Carlos Aguirre. Kudos to Printz for this, and I hope the full-length work will be shown soon.

Most Americans' knowledge of Irish step dancing begins and ends with “Lord of the Dance,” a highly theatrical, commercialized vehicle for shirtless, muscular men and Rockette-like lines of women. Siamsa Tire showed us that this art form goes farther than the superficial, and over the evening, they snapped their snazzy feet together in two quartets, “An Damhsóir/The Dancer” and “Seville Suite.” The kicker proved to be the former, with high energy, lots of fancy footwork, and lullaby-like vocals, but both were fun and invigorating to behold.

The evening sizzled to an end with “Cross Talk,” combining dancers from Printz Dance Project and Siamsa Tire in what looked like an international Gap ad as the dancers moved to and fro across the Cowell Stage. In jeans paired with bright colored t-shirts, the two groups danced separately and together, exchanging genres until modern, hip hop, and step dancing all melded into one big blur of sound and movement. Sure, you could tell which dancers were step dancers and which weren’t, but that wasn’t the purpose. The point was that we could share dance forms, learn from this partnership, and create something all-together unique to experience and enjoy. And truly it was fun while it lasted.

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