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Sarah Michelson
October 5 - 9

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Wednesday, October 18
    Thanks to previous blogger Devin
    By Alan

    Hi, I know Sarah superficially, have taught her at the Cunningham Studio years ago, and just love her work. I want to thank Dennis (or whoever this Sara is who posted his writing, or both). He described how I felt over the years watching her performances from small (Chashama/Movement Research) to larger (Kitchen). I thought the statement about depression/happiness was one of the most accurate, humble and simple statements I've ever read in dance criticism, also liked his sense of searching for words. I wrote a long excited piece about Sara a year ago, which I'll try to post. Because I danced in abstract work with Cunningham, and love abstract dance that somehow pins down something specific and provoking, and most of all because a sense of humor is the highest form of any art, I tip my hat to Sarah. But I tip the hat also to writers like Dennis who attempt to do homage in description and comment, and lay themselves bare. Alan

    posted by tania @ 3:19 pm | Permanent link

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Saturday, October 8
    Confusion: Sarah Michelson
    By Devin Grenley


    I saw this show for my dance class, and everyone was absolutly amazed. I go to university prep, and my teacher is Mrs. Swirsky. We had to write a paper about this show, and so i decided to share it with you. I couldn't exactly say what i wanted to in the paper, becuase this show has no words.
    My paper is Attached below!!
    this show is amazing guys!! Thank you for puttin it on!!


    Confusion: Sarah Michelson

    Devin Grenley


    I step out of the car, passing the motionless yet still lively statues, and make my way to the steep but welcoming stairs. As soon as I enter the theatre, I knew it would be the experience of a lifetime. All around me are dancers in cages, moving in swiftly and slowly motions. The dancers seemed to be showing their expressions and thoughts through their movements. The feeling you get when you walk into the room was unexplainable, and unforgettable.

    The lights shut off with a sudden jolt, and everyone jumps in their seat. From the first light effect, I had a feeling it would be nothing like a traditional performance. The small group of dancers come piling in using sharp movements, and confused looks on their faces. I pictured a story in my mind, four people coping with their problems all alone in the world. With sudden pauses, the dancers seclude each person in a different way. After a minute of motionless actions, they except each others differences and keep going with their ways of life. Suddenly a different reign of music comes on, techno and rap, and I notice something strange yet interesting. It was like four people dealing with their problems, stuck into a knew world with no intention of changing. They used the same moves, the same style, and the same slow actions as before, but the music makes the audience have a different feel.

    Where are your limits? When did we know it was okay to stand? When did we know to get out of dancers ways? The fact is you donít. As Mrs. Swirsky said, each audience reacted differently. Each audience sets their own limits, and reaches as far as they are comfortable. I believe to get the full experience, you have to put yourself out there, be able to walk around and let yourself engage with the dancers. There was confusion in the air, not only by the audience but the dancers as well. At times it was overwhelming, where do you look? What room do you want to be in? But you just had to learn to go with the flow.

    I personally had a very weird feeling during the performance. I felt as if I was in a bombing or an attack. Everyone sacred and confused, and didnít know how to express themselves. Their movements reflect their thoughts and expressions inside. Everything was loud, and at times nerve racking as to what would happen next. At one point, the four dancers in the front stopped, and pointed to a picture and waited. After a minute of stillness, they sighed, and kept dancing on. It is as if they are waiting for something to happen, and when it didnít, they tried something else.

    Many things happened through this performance, which I canít explain, or put into words what I was thinking. At the end, I noticed that it was as if nothing ever happened. There was no talking throughout the whole hour of performance time, and at the end suddenly someone says something funny as if she was hiding her dance, and didnít notice the other dancers expressing their emotions as well.

    After the performance, I was depressed yet had a feeling of happiness at the same time. I had mixed emotions, which I canít put into words. I was satisfied, with what I had seen, and for some reason or another it all made sense. Throughout the whole show, I felt confused and full curiosity, but by the end confusion left my thoughts, and I understood. I donít know what I understood, and I donít know why I donít feel confused anymore but all I know is the feeling is gone, and the show makes sense.

    I didnít write down my thoughts as well as I wish I could have. There are no words to how I felt during this performance, and if I had the chance I would go back again, just to experience it again. I really meant it when I said to Ms. Swirsky that this was the best show I have ever seen, and Iím so glad I got to see it.


    posted by sara @ 6:40 pm | Permanent link

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Thursday, October 6
    Well spoken, other bloggers.
    By Betsey Brock

    Well spoken, other bloggers. Thank you so much, Sarah Michelson - for an amazing dance. The performers were fantastic and great fun to watch.

    Thank you, also, fellow Wednesday night audience members, for the fine, engaged company. And thanks, Nate, for being such a hot date.

    I'd like to know more about Sarah's intent and her expectations of audience reaction. While I gather that we weren't really supposed to leave our seats, the parts of the performance staged in the little room were intriguing. What did she mean by putting them in an area where only about 15% of the seated audience might see them? I truly appreciated the surprise, and I felt proud of my fellow audience members for being so proactive, and for making active choices to define what their experience of Daylight would be.

    I don't want to be Henry Art Gallery-centric, or turn my response into a plug for 150 Works of Art, but the connections between the performance and the exhibition are strong and interesting. Both seem to question the art-audience relationship, both throw traditional ways of staging into question, and through these upheavals - both bring viewers to form stronger relationships with the work.

    The performance raised questions for me about the differences and similarities in visual art presentation and performance. When we (at the Henry) have art that begs to be touched, seen from many different angles, or crossed in an unconventional way Ė if that is not the artist's intentĖ we put up stanchions, signs, or post gallery attendants near the work. Where do you find an equivalent in performance other than with the proscenium stage? And when we exhibit art that is supposed to be viewed while walking through it, on it, or into it Ė audiences need a little extra support or knowledge to feel comfortable. I know On The Boards audiences are sophisticated, and don't require coddling, obviously Ė when the audience figured out that there were performances all over the place, they took action and sought them out. How can audiences in general be expected to behave traditionally when faced with (gosh, I hate this phrase but it totally fits) challenging dance? When confronted with unexpected, delightfully confounding staging Ė shouldn't we respond in an unexpected, delightfully confounding way?

    I can't wait to hear about the rest of the run!


    posted by sara @ 2:37 pm | Permanent link

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    Go see this show and then try to write about it...
    By Michael Keim

    Previous bloggers are correct to note how difficult it is to write cogently and concisely about this show.  You really should see it.  The live music and dj are great, and music gives what little narrative arc the piece has (and needs).  The dancing is beautiful, engaging, airy and mournful.  Lighting and stage design: well worth the long effort they involved.  You'll have to see it.  I hope the company was okay with the audience participation; they seemed to accept it with good grace during the show.  Even more, I hope the company is proud of this work.  It leaves you different than when you arrived.  You should probably go see it to understand.


    The piece challenges our ideas of how space is arranged, how audience and performers interact, why we dance, blah, blah, blah.  (You know, all those things people write about dance and performance art as if everyone knows what they mean.)  But while some artists who attempt this challenge resemble a 5-year old endlessly asking "why?", Michelson gives something that is both de-centering and nourishing (I'm sure everyone knows what I mean by that... If not, well then, you really should go see the show.)  Nate Lippens wishes he'd seen more of the main dance; the piece resembles real life: you never know where you're supposed to be paying attention.  Everything tempts. 


    As I look back over these comments, I think my first two sentences are the most true.  Go see this show and then try to write about it.  I loved it, but it remains confusing to me and I'd love to hear more ideas.  Did I mention that you should go see it?

    posted by sara @ 11:15 am | Permanent link

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    Opening Night
    By Nate Lippens

    Sarah Michelsonís performance tonight was more than I could have hoped for. It was utterly befuddling, beautifully danced, and very challenging. Without giving too much away to anyone who plans to attendóand you really shouldóDaylight reconfigures the viewing space for the dance. When I first encountered the seating within the seating I was taken by the foreshortened performance area, which meant the dancersí feet couldnít be viewed. I thought this was part of Michelsonís plan to upend audience anticipation, to redirect the gaze using the newly constructed space. But as the performance proceeded through the first crowd-pleasing piece there was the rumble of something happening behind us where the spaceís actual permanent seating and a slice of the stage sit. The lighting and a few sound cues created an atmosphere of curiosity that soon found the audience craning to see, then standing up, then standing on their seats. As the show progressed people began filing down to walk behind the risers to see other dances and movements in progress. These were performed by community dancers and done well. They were mostly repeated phrases. Soon people filed back to their seats or moved back and forth between the staged dance and the satellite pieces. The typical sit-down audience experience was gone and never quite regained until the final coda when after an uncertain ending to the previous piece the audience couldnít figure out if the show was over. Michelson came out and the audienceó half-standing, half-sittingó was in a state of suspended animation, rapt as they watched the final movements. I want to go back and see it again to see what the audience reaction is but also to more be more focused on the dance on that narrow strip of stage. It was so powerfully performed that I canít bear thinking I missed some of it while craning my head to look at what was behind me.

    posted by njlippens @ 12:10 am | Permanent link

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