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 Post subject: Sarah Michelson's Dogs at BAM (Brooklyn, NY)
PostPosted: Sat Oct 21, 2006 7:18 am 

Joined: Fri Oct 20, 2006 8:32 pm
Posts: 4
Location: Brooklyn, NY
So, a friend and I look forward to our season tickets to the BAM Next Wave festival each year. Tickets are inexpensive, but the caliber of performances there is so much better than, say, Broadway (i.e. solid performances by truly innovative, risk taking artists, not "canned" popular theater and dance). At least that's what we thought until we saw Sarah Michelson's Dogs last night.

I had never seen Michelson's work before, and wasn't even aware of her popularity and presence here in the NY dance scene. Apparently, this was a much anticipated piece, and possibly, her farewell piece. It was all we could do to stay until the intermission.

The set was really effective and we thought it looked promising of a great piece, with a floor of a repeated geometric patterns in black and white and a table in the center of the stage echoing the floor pattern. About 60 seconds into the choreography, however, it became apparent that "cool things" were not to come.

Quite honestly, I have not seen choreography this bad outside of small-time dance school performances I would have seen in the suburbs growing up. What's more, about 50% of those would have been BETTER than this contrived piece. The movement was kind of like lyrical ballet, not modern at all, very choppy, and no connection to the music. Now, I absolutely know that the movement doesn't need to *match* the music, but this was like bad ballet that someone threw together without even listening to the score (which was, briefly, folky guitar music, but mostly part of Delibes ballet score for Sylvia). The movement just didn't relate to the music, wasn't interesting or emotive in the slightest, and didn't flow at all. It was so bad that I was truly embarassed for Michelson.

Ah, the dancing. Of course, my sympathy to the dancers for having to deal with the terrible choreography, but again, the caliber of dancing was akin to a year-end recital in the suburbs, NOT BAM. There was wobbling and it had the "not quite full out" look to it. Technically, these were just not strong dancers. Also, once of the dancers had the audacity to wear a knee brace and ankle brace on stage! I had to question whether we were at a dress rehearsal.

I am absolutely dumbfounded. I can't get that 35 minutes of my life back, I fear. How did this piece end up at BAM? How did this choreographer ever gain any notoriety, and where did she train? This was truly, truly awful. It was all we could do to keep from laughing. I expect much more from BAM. What a disappointment.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2006 4:01 am 

Joined: Sat Aug 23, 2003 11:01 pm
Posts: 6467
Location: Estonia
She Can Dream, Can't She?
by DEBORAH JOWITT for the Village Voice
published: October 24, 2006

Michelson sometimes introduces human activities into these fastidiously re-imagined spaces as modules, layered or strung together. Spoken text, props, dancing, and music combine to create a funky-smart world that has the illogical logic of dreams. In her new Dogs, the dream seems to be occurring in a sparsely inhabited mansion — a foyer out of a 1930s film.

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 Post subject: Since this is CriticalDance...
PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2006 10:01 am 

Joined: Tue Mar 21, 2006 12:47 pm
Posts: 61
Location: Boston, MA
... I would like to comment on strangegirl's criticism of dance.

Reading a dance puts us directly in the face of our own assumptions about art, bodies, interpersonal relationships, and the world at large. What if we cultivated an approach to viewing work that was based on the notion that the work you were viewing was the most true expression of iteself possible? I believe our attention would shift from appraising its worthiness to committing ourselves to figuring out how the work could have originated in the mind of the artist and what that tells us about them and their outlook.

In this regard, I would encourage strangegirl to read through the criticism he/she wrote in order to see how the appraisal of value being made excludes the possibility that DOGs was not aspiring to be strangegirl's conception of what a good dance should be, but something else entirely (Sarah Michelson's conception). This is an opportunity to learn about Sarah Michelson's mind and about the assumptions/dipositions you hold that keep you from understanding that mind.

In regards to Sarah Michelson's DOGs...

What I appreciate about Michelson's work is that it hints at virtuosity, yet remains loose enough to reveal an attitude that doesn't take itself too seriously. I find that approach endearing as it allows me to see a range of intents, as opposed to clean precision dancing that hits every moment. From interrupting a chaines to eat a piece of chicken to dancing just outside of the spotlight, the work is full of clear choices to land just shy of pure virtuosity in order to reveal something human.

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