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Archive for June 13th, 2011

a review of “Justice for Some”

On Saturday night, inFlux Dance presented the second installment of “Justice for Some” at Rowland Hall High School. As an hour-long multimedia performance addressing a broad range of human rights and protest movements, the project is undeniably ambitious. So ambitious, in fact, that I feel compelled to begin this review by acknowledging both the difficulty of tackling such immense issues and the bravery of inFlux Dance for choosing to do so. Many dance artists would shy from taking on same-sex marriage, abortion, teen suicide, and human trafficking in the same evening, but inFlux Dance did not and I believe that the courage to publicly address social issues should always be commended.

Having said that, I find that I am, in some ways, torn as to how to approach this review—for certainly “Justice for Some” was attempting to be much more than just a dance concert. The work of Executive Director Alysia Woodruff additionally seeks to explore physical communication in hearing and deaf cultures through the incorporation of American Sign Language into her dance works. Prior to the performance, teen participants of inFlux’s workshop for deaf and hearing youth presented several movement studies and were on hand for the company’s post-performance discussion of the issues, the show, and the process. I was touched and intrigued by these young people’s stories and grateful to inFlux for bringing people together to share their perspectives and concerns.

However, as a dance artist I found myself struggling with “Justice for Some.” Through Erin Mayfield’s video (projected onstage with the dancers), the audience was shown clip after clip of historical protests, sit-ins, and riots, interspersed with images of stick-thin models and beauty magazines. I had a difficult time following the thread of the conversation that was taking place onstage between the projection and the dancers, and at times the repetitive clips spewing “Terrorism! Terrorism!” made me feel bombarded with information, rather than invited to join the discussion that was being created.

What was most distressing for me was that the show didn’t utilize the artistic capabilities of dance. Not that there wasn’t dancing going on onstage—there was plenty of that—but the choreography felt like it was taking up space rather than communicating any deeper meaning. The art form of dance has the unique ability to convey something through physical embodiment. Through the dancing body, choreographers have in their palette a direct line to the human corporeal experience—and thus, I believe, a direct line to their audience. Watching a dancer truly and clearly embody an emotion or an idea can engage the audience in an empathetic and visceral experience; that is how dance can touch hearts and educate minds.

InFlux’s seven dancers (many of whom I know personally) are a talented group of performers that are undoubtedly capable of pulling off a more nuanced show, capable of embodying the complexities of protest by doing more than raising one arm or clenching their fists. Though I applaud the presentation social activism, I feel that “Justice for Some” missed a number of artistic opportunities to engage the audience on a more personal front.

 

Emily Terndrup

Emily is a recent graduate of the BFA program at the University of Utah

 

sb continued

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=1733972315210

Click the link above to see a video by SB. His opening weekend and after parties were apparently awesome but don’t forget you have two more chances to see his greatest hits at the Rose. The 17th and 18th, tickets available through arttix or at the door.