This year’s Summerdance kicked off with a performance by the innovative and talented New York group Brian Brooks Moving Company. Like last year, when the company delighted audiences with its all-pink Dance-O-Matic, they presented some of the best contemporary dance has to offer: serious art that doesn’t take itself seriously.
Take the premise, for example. The dance is based around, and named after, the concept of a piñata—a colorful, artificial animal full of candy or confetti. It’s a frivolous item, symbolic of parties and celebrations, of children and imagination. And while you could make a case for the piñata as some kind of cultural symbol, perhaps as a way to look at the experience of Latino immigrants in America, Brooks and his company don’t. They leave the weightier issues to artists like Richard Lerman, whose Fences-Borders exhibit is still hanging at Contemporary Arts Forum (CAF), across a courtyard from Center Stage Theater where the dancers performed.
Instead, Piñata is an impressionistic portrait, whimsical and dreamlike. It starts with dancers dressed all in white, each costume a different variation of a cross between a swimming outfit from the turn of the century (bloomers, long knickers, skull caps) and a matador uniform (fluffy epaulettes, bows at the neck); and from the moment in the first scene when a beaten llama piñata releases large white paper squares into the air, the performance is awash in confetti.