Tuesday, June 20, 2006

American Dance Festival: Private Parts (Solo Works by Sara Juli & Miguel Gutierrez)

I went on my own to see Sara Juli and Miguel Gutierrez at ADF tonight. I will start my comments with the caveat that I have no formal background in theory of dance; I greatly respect ADF and trust that any talent that they bring will be world class; and art, great or not, is not always pleasant or enjoyable. That said, for what it's worth, I am entitled to my opinion; I've been coming to ADF since the mid-1990s and haven't been to any performance that I enjoyed less than tonight's. Both artists struck me as self-obsessed and trying to stretch the definition of dance - but to what purpose?

Sara started the evening by sauntering down through the audience and essentially having a dialogue about gossip. She told bawdy, clearly fabricated, tales about ADF faculty and administrators, and asked our opinion about the role of gossip. She would occasionally take a drink from a water cooler and strike a few poses. She must be a talented dancer, but I was ill-equipped to discern that.

After the intermission, Miguel began his performance, naked but for a pair of sneakers and socks. He placed objects such as a television, video player, CD boombox, and a mirror, about the equally naked stage, all curtains pulled back. He donned a t-shirt and training pants for most of the performance, which more obviously showed off his dance talent. I was quite disturbed by a piece where he suspends himself above a candle that he lights, singing while (hopefully) hoping he wouldn't be singed in his bare upper thighs or buttocks. Over time, folks came on stage and added books beneath the candle, raising the stakes. What was the point? One thing that I did like about his show was a clever interaction with a video of his taking questions during an outdoor performance that he did, and his further recursive interaction with himself filmed earlier but dressed in the same clothes.

I'll chalk this one up to my missing key points. I look forward to the Musician's Concert tomorrow night and very much anticipate Friday's Pilobolus performance - their annual ADF show is almost always my favorite of the season.

From the ADF site:

Deep Throat (2006 world premiere)
Liar. Gossip. Hypocrite. Sara Juli reveals insider information about the administration of the arts in her “latest permutation of words caught in her throat” (
Gay City News) and the movement that follows. Deep Throat reveals the gossip behind the girl. Juli, a light of the downtown dance and theatre scene” (New Yorker), will perform the world premiere of her solo Deep Throat fusing movement, text and song to expose the humor and danger in leaking information to others.

Retrospective Exhibitionist (2005)
Retrospective Exhibitionist, Miguel Gutierrez shuttles through his own real and imagined performance history, discovering the vulnerability that comes with being watched by others. “Reckless, smart and passionate” (Village Voice), Gutierrez uses a tv/vcr, boom box, video camera and other props to look at the merciless
unraveling of time and its impact on live performance and the life on the


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