My Best-of-Fringe vote in the dance category goes to the Chicago-based troupe, Same Planet Different World Dance Theatre. The company’s Fringe Festival show, “You/Provoke/Me (Again),” is terrifically smart, technically rigorous, tightly performed, and imbued with a ferociously controlled kineticism that kept me watching, voraciously, with the desire to see more, more, more.
This company, directed by Joanna Rosenthal, could give several Twin Cities wannabes serious competition. As for the choreography, the work of New York dance makers Colleen Thomas and Andrea Miller comes to mind. Why don’t we see this company here more often?
Rosenthal’s “Grey Noise,” set to an electronic score that includes music, sound and text by Jori Holkkonnen, Ben Frost, Roy Web and Morphine, is a gripping work of astute intelligence and raw tension filtered through an economical movement vocabulary of barely controlled violence. The woman at the center of this piece moves with the taut physicality and feral sensuality of a lioness who heads her pack. Think actor Katee Sackhoff’s fighter-pilot character Kara “Starbuck” Thrace in the recent “Battlestar Galactica,” but in a dress.
She’s only one of several dark angels (another woman, and three men) that wrestle through an array of abstracted emotions with a taut physicality that becomes more gestural, then softens as the work progresses. Darkly lit, they course through shadow — and more shadow — with lean intention that ends not quite in despair, with an air of inevitability.
Choreographer Daniel Stark teaches at MSU-Mankato. His solo for Mary Davies Stark, “Life,” occurs inside a spotlight with a square prop that resembles a cinder block. In this short work, the dancer pits her psyche —and her gravity — against the block’s immovability with a delicate, tensile strength.
Stark’s “Politics Religion Sex” tackles these weighty topics with a flagrant and brilliant mix of trenchant humor and savvy boldness. Eight dancers in black suits, white shirts and skinny ties move with swift, incisive rhythm through an abstract choreography of frightening conformity and desperate rebellion. Again, this work is lit with a mix of shadows that adds to the tension.
There’s madness and supplication, sex and comedy, discomfort and dissension, possession and provocation in this piece, which concludes this all-too-short performance on a wild, whacked-out note of serious satisfaction.
Only one show left: 5:30, Tuesday, Aug. 10, U of M Rarig Proscenium. For more information, go here.