Poonie's Cabaret

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Hey Bloggers,

I'm back to having fun watching and writing about dance. I plan on renaming and reformatting this site soon, so heads up. There is always so much to see here in Chicago. I appreciate your suggestions for what I should see. Gimme more! Last night I went to Poonie's Cabaret!

Poonie's Cabaret
June 21, 2010
Links Hall
3435 North Sheffield Avenue

Poonie's Cabaret at Links Hall is a unique annual Chicago dance event that features a number of artists performing works in progress and improvisation. The proceeds from the tickets (5$ suggested donation) go to support the Duncan Coming Out of the Closet Memorial Fund. Curator and host Jyl Fehrenkamp (Aka Jyldo) introduced the show by noting that it is indeed Pride week, making this years cabaret “the gayest Poonie's ever."

This year Poonie's was steeped in campy salutes to pop culture. Samantha Allen has Beiber Fever. She performed a section of her work in progress, “Bedroom Diva Pop Odyssey” clad in sparkling golden tights and a home made Justin Beiber tank-top. Her dance, intended to gain the attention of the teen pop music star, displayed all the redeeming qualities of a bad YouTube fan-girl video; complete with failed lip syncing, not so sexy hair flips, and egregious body rolls. Allen has great comedic timing. She feverishly pounds her chest with great angst. Her fist seems to turn against her, pounding Allen into the ground, leaving her red chested and swooning.

Jyldo performed a nostalgic and piercingly honest ode to her first celebrity crush. In “These Were the Pills Cory Hain Was Taking,” sung to the tune of “My Favorite Things,” Jyldo reflects on her girlhood obsession and on Hain's movie career/drug habit. Jyldo sits on the floor surrounded by treasured pictures of her teen heart throb and grants the late Cory Hain her forgiveness for his shortcomings.

Gretchen and Regina perform a cheery folk song about moving to Portland with the dream of growing body hair and having “hot hippie sex.”

Sammy Sprigs and Phil Elson dance in a lively combative duet with a happily ever after ending.

Josh Radclif's work is erie and distorted. He creates a sexy, other worldly landscape of living stalagmites. The costumes created by Maggie helped emphasize the dancers swaying limbs.
Sammy Sprig's music score paired well with Radclif's leering choreography.

Amanda Crockett of “El Circo Cheapo” thrilled the audience with her highly skilled performance of an unconventional mime piece.

Jessica Hudson performed a solo that featured a character who is both shy and starved for attention.

I'm not sure if Judith Light is a real celebrity or not, but Candy Lawrence (playing Judith Light) insists that you might know her from, “Who's the Boss.” Lawrence's character wears a kind of 1980's business woman drag costume. Think shoulder pads and lime green pumps. She opens the piece by, arriving late and explaining that Tony Danza is a woman and that she and Judith were in the closet together. Before she can finish her story, she declares that she has “no time for this short story.” Lawrence's hilarious routine is a kind of critical mockery of motivational seminars and the American business work ethic.

The closing piece, created and performed by Suzy Grant, transforms an orderly stage into a scene of destruction and mayhem. Grant begins facing upstage writing in a notebook, while two janitorial looking men set up two ladders and an office paper shredder. She wears feminine clothes and a curly silver wig. Grant lustily tears out the page she has been composing and hands it to one of her helpers. The men work to shred to paper from atop the ladder. Grant stands under the office appliance as her words become dismembered and rain down on her now exposed face. Grant is wearing a handlebar mustache, which further disrupts the orderliness of the piece by skewing Grant's gender. In this erratic work, Grant frolics in and the goes to war with a barrage of shredded paper. The piece ends with Grant alone in an exhausted heap in the center of the destructive mess she has created.

For more information on Links Hall, please visit: www.linkshall.org

Live Animals Performance Collective and Friends present GO

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Hamlin Park Fieldhouse
Oct 29 and 30

Kate Corby
Chris Walker/NoMoRune Collaborative
Carrie Hanson/The Seldoms

Talented dance-makers and intelligent performers unite to make GO; an hour of diverse dance and serious mind candy. Too many people missed out. All five of the peices take full advantage of the Fieldhouse's depth. In this space bodies move up and down stage zooming in and out; one moment appearing tiny and distant then all at once huge and looming.

Carrie Hanson's meditative duet, Right of Way, personifies the landscape of a railway. Hanson explores closeness and distance, independence and united momentum. Kate Corby is perpetually preventing Walker from moving into a new space or energy; effectively containing Walker. This is no small task considering Walker's 6ft plus height and her small frame. Walker is perpetually preventing his partner from falling. Whenever she tosses herself or allows her body to timbre to the ground, Chris catches her.

Hanson's sound score features recordings from train tracks, providing a complementary metaphor to the image of the two bodies separating and linking up. Moving bodies become box cars, rails, and rail ties with human emotions.

Emily Miller's Excerpt in Blue brings the audience from the industrial landscape of Right of Way into the a more natural setting. The connection between the two pieces provides an essential through-line for the show. Miller's dance morphs from an abstract sea-side landscape into sentimentality. The two dancers embody both the fluid movement of waves and the static structure of a land mass. Bodies flow to the floor and come to an erect halt, legs bent at the knees; feet flexed like stalagmites.

The dancers stand side by side, and Whitney Burton marks out the moving horizon with her hand. The dance grows more personal and human-bodied. They run in playful circles performing complex partnering. They have trouble embracing. Weight is connected through the chest; arms rigid and extended; like two starfish in an impossible embrace.

Both Burton and Erin Kilmurray demonstrate and softness and struggle. The partner work is intricate and full bodied. Flow is interrupted when one partner kicks the other into the air with a sudden thrust of the legs. The airborne dancer flies through the air and lands with a profound softness, then flows in to the next movement with out any recovery time.

Chris Walker is a shape shifter in Arnsenio Andrade-Calderon's Reflections. He tells the story of the life cycle of plant, animal, and mineral. Walker's arms and back writhe like a plant taking root and emerging from the soil. His spine articulates eternity. Walker's hair extends the energy that emanates from his crown. Isometric motion and Horton-esque lines give way to the circular momentum of whirling dervishes. Walker's striking has a centering effect; drawing the audience in deeper and deeper until the lights go out.

The centerpiece is Kate Corby's GO; a high energy trio that seems to dare the audience to keep watching. Emily Miller sets the mood and calls the shots for the dance; opening with a taunting solo. Corby's choreography is full of surprises. She sets up patterns and pathways and cleverly smashes them down. Anna Norman, Killmurray, and Miller execute Corby's precise and asymmetrical movement with ferocity. The dancers must multi-task since much of the movement does not prioritize one direction, shape, or part of the body.

They dance close to the audience staring us down. Miller cuts the tension with a slice of her hand and they all scatter upstage; line up and turn to face us. They move down stage changing levels, contracting, shifting, springing; never breaking their gaze.

Luck Plush "Punk Yankees"

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October 24th 2009
The Dance Center 1306 S. Michigan
Chicago IL

Lucky Plush stole much more than the hearts and minds of The Dance Center patrons. Julia Roads is a raging kleptomaniac. Punk Yankees irreverently samples the dance world; poking fun at dance cannons, stealing choreography from local artists, and appropriating a slew generas and forms ranging from internet viral video to clogging.

Lucky Plush capitalizes on the constellation of crises surrounding ownership. Dancers and objects are lined up; linearly marking time and progression. Bodies stack on top of each other. The dancers play a game of follow the leader; each dancer aping the personality as well as the physical and vocal qualities of the dancer immediately before them. They literally echo the cries of frustrated of artists. "My idea! My labor! My money!"

The company effectively punks out the audience by opening the show in a mock post-show discussion, essentially performing the crossing of the fourth wall without actually acknowledging the audience. The "discussion" abstracts. Everyone is talking at once. Dance buzz words like "live bodies" are tossed around in the furry. The company is suddenly dancing in cannon, throwing themselves from their folding chairs to standing, and sinking back. The sample of choreography is immediately recognizable as Ohad Naharin's "Minus 16." Hubbard Street regularly brings down the house with this piece which breaks down the barrier between performer and audience. Lucky plush makes ironic use of Naharin's movement, transitioning out of the post-show audience discussion format into the abstract world of modern dance. The dancers sing out a declaration that they have learned this dance by watching it on YouTube.

When the question, "Where does it start?" is interjected, a duets begins. The dancers call on the the gods and goddesses of the dance world(beginning with Louis the 14th) as canonical images fly on to the screen behind them. The dancers, one of them David Gerber with whom I took a college course in "Western Dance History," perform samples of movement that character the contributions of the figures they invoke as unified phrases.

Rhoads presents her most successful mash-ups in act2. Against the backdrop of hilarious and sometimes emotionally gripping original mash-ups of video and music, the movement stands alone and it often successfully becomes something more that a collection of its parts. Sometimes the movement is intentionally less unified and more like a dance collage: Cunningham torsos, Alvin Ailey arms, Peter Carpenter shaking, Martha Graham contractions, Trisha Brown hands. Luck Plush references the living and the dead, people in the audience, works that premiered at The Dance Center. No figure is too personal or elite to for the thievery of the choreographer.

The show culminates into a dance celebration complete with a disco ball and DJ party songs like Michael Jackson's "Thriller," "the Hustle," and "Macarena." A mash-up of Beyonce Knowles' "Single Ladies" and a performance of its famously appropriated dance closes the performance. Beyonce's choreography for "Single Ladies" was taken almost verbatim from a Bob Fosse dance. The music video is an internet sensation. Thousands of people have learned the choreography from watching the video on YouTube and then posted their selves performing the choreography.
As the dancers bow, credits are projected and roll up a black screen (movie theater style) behind them.

Punk Yankees makes it explicit that the history of concert dance is a history carried forward by appropriation. From this point of departure the audience is inundated by multi-media dance spectacle that amplifies an ethos which may well define our culture and the locus of modern dance. This performance simultaneously caters to dance insiders and to strangers of modern dance. There is so much going on in this dance that I have yet to touch on. Catch some of it on stealthisdance.org