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Dance Split Bill
Monster Squad and Zoe Scofield

Feb 16-18, 2006

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Tuesday, February 21
Monday, February 20
    Split Bill
    By haruko

    I went to this double performance on thursday, and it was such a wonderful treat! I enjoyed how the set design in the first piece was like constantly unfolding and moving (Monster Squad...), to create new space for the dancers. The second bill, which was Zoe Scofield and Juniper Shuey's  stage design, I loved so much how the beginning unfolded with such beautiful and meticuluos transition from video projection to the live action on stage so magically,so mysteriouslyThankyou Sara, for giving us opportunities to see two wonderful shows!

    posted by sara @ 11:15 am | Permanent link

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Friday, February 17
    Interesting Minds....
    By Laura Curry

    I had seen Tahni’s work before and I think Tahni Holt has a fascinating mind. Together with Marty Schnapf they built an experience with no superfluous stuff…no adiditives without purpose or design. “Honestly” driven, built and performed by Tahni and her dancers. Flirting with herself and me like I was the only one in a room full of strangers, and breaking up the psychology of a kooky culture that, until recently, controlled my hours. Tahni’s movement vocabulary – the leaning woman, the “phht” so present I thought for a moment it was recorded - and the way she let us in – or not – to view this disturbing juxtaposition made me more of a fan than when I entered On the Boards. She doesn’t chitchat differently than she creates. Her work comes from a deep, and genuine place and is evident.

    On the other hand I am unfamiliar with Zoe’s work. Her dancers are lovely. The work she, Juniper Shuey and Morgan Henderson have built is complex and the visual imagery is seductive. The choices were delicious and compelling (as my new friend seated next to me, and who was deeply moved by the work, expressed). There was a fluid emotion about the work. I kept feeling like I was seeing something that wasn’t there. Not like I was peeking through a curtain, but like I was watching ghosts. I adored the man putting the puzzle together. He reminded me of time, and the reality of impermanence. I longed to see the male dancer down stage of the opaque curtain tell me in his body what destruction I was witnessing, finally, in red squares.

    posted by sara @ 5:12 pm | Permanent link

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    By Christopher Frizzelle

    Monster Squad

    I loved this piece. The set is icily geometric, made up of modular glowing white blocks and larger walls like slices of a glacier or cloudy glass siding, and all these pieces revolve geocentrically around a central water cooler. I guess this is a piece about office work, but what you see is people being acted on by invisible exterior forces (being punched, being pushed, being shot, being shaken), people seemingly at the mercy of their own uncooperative bodies (being slumped over, being epileptic, asphyxiating like fish), and people triumphing over exterior forces (flying, pumping their elbows and pelvises with glee, walking together hand in hand)—these three states, again and again, forming a day-in-day-out pattern, occasionally broken when they all fall to the floor and a series of white birds makes its way across a blue background and evanesces. The outfits, bands of solid contrasting colors, look like they’re made out of flags, and the modular set becomes even more modular in the final moments when the stage is washed in a projection of choppy waves and Marty Schnapf’s built components become a huge, weird, beautiful low table. Plus, the music is very catchy. I walked to the lobby for intermission singing to myself, “Zoom, zoom/zoom, zoom, zoom, zoom.” You’ll see.


    Zoe Scofield

    I loved this piece less. It was too long, and its length was unhelpfully underscored by a visual effect that lasts the duration: the gradual creation of a thick red stripe across the back wall. As soon as you catch on that the piece is going to last as long as it takes for the stripe to get across the wall, you prepare yourself for the long haul. I’m not saying Zoe Scofield and her crew aren’t compelling dancers, but the occasional reliance on the epileptic gesture in the Monster Squad piece reaches a point of parody in this one. I ask you, modern choreographers: why the sudden need to have dancers just flip out? Spasms are really not that interesting to watch. All the dancers’ faces are bisected by a messy red line, as if there’s a freshly bleeding bullet wound in the center of the forehead at the hairline, and everyone’s bodies are covered in white powder, giving them a dancing-zombie aspect. That said, there are great parts—it shares with Monster Squad’s piece the recurring theme of bodies not in control, followed suddenly by bodies in beautiful control—and it’s colorful.

    posted by sara @ 12:40 pm | Permanent link

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    NW Choreographers Split Bill
    By Kate Ratcliffe

    The first half of the program, "Island Desk" by Monster Squad, uses a modern austere office space setting (clearly defined by the water cooler central fixture) to present an environment of repetition, wry humor, and ordered chaos as the "workers" go through a series of loose mechanical movements, often thrust around by themselves or others indifferently and devoid of self-will. My overall impression of the scene was one of lab rats shot up with chemicals one too many times. I found the choreography intriguing, especially the choice to give each dancer patterns of movement that they could be individually recognized for within the drone worker setting. The energized tonal music lended humor to the dance, but remained somewhat separate from the movement. It seemed to have the effect of a soundtrack rather than an integral component of the dance and I found this to be mildly distracting. The choice to present the performance as a repetition viewed from different angles without the feeling of any substantial build made sense in the given context but had the downside of being, after a while, simply repetitive. .......... "There ain't no easy way out" on the second half of the bill takes its time setting the opening mood with visual projections of rain on glass and a frail woman high on a swing upon the front black curtain and screen. This time focusing on simple images creates a space for the music to settle into my consciousness and I feel prepared for it to lead me to other places. Light moves onto the screen illuminating ghostly and embryonic movement and the skeletal frame of a dancer. From the moment the dance begins I understand that the perfomers are shaping a contemporarily relevant ongoing ritual steeped in hints of the past through traditional touches in costuming, old-record-style crackling in the music, and clear nods towards tribal dance in the movement. Variety in pace and style and the effective use of silence add complexity and power to the performance. All components of this piece interweave to great advantage in creating an emotional and thought-provoking experience. Zoe Scofield clearly used the exceptional music and visual resources to power and shape the strength of her choreography. As a result, the performance captured my complete attention and held it for the duration.

    posted by katecliffe @ 12:04 pm | Permanent link

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    Split Bill
    By Nate Lippens

    Fighting, frolicking, and frottaging their way around the stage, Monster Squad are four women and a man whose movements for this piece are a mixture of momentary stylized kitsch and the kind of serialized movements with repeated phrases and riffs that are familiar to contemporary dance fans. One dancer keeps her head perpetually at an angle, flopped to the side, moving bent to one direction for most of the piece. The score is a soundtrack of typing, piano, and eerie bells that sounded part Notwist and part soundtrack to sci-fi cult classic Liquid Sky. The sped-up brutality and futility of office life (and life in general) are referenced but also open ended enough that many other meanings can be contained and overlaid. Abrupt endings to the sections with the dancers lying on the floor and then beginning again get at the day in/ day out grind while it’s all played out on a geometric floor pattern with shifting white sets. Later in the piece one wall is moved to block/ reflect the audience’s view. The movement is spastic and rhapsodic by turns with a definite undercurrent of humor and menace operating as alternating currents.


    While Monster Squad was playful and ultimately light, Zoe Scofield’s performance was darker and mysterious. Opening with projected footage of a woman swinging on a trapeze with her mid-section missing or blackened out, the black cloth curtain is parted to reveal movement through a plastic curtain. The film ends and the curtains pull back to reveal a stage covered in fog. There are a series of solos and group movements. The costumes are very colorful and Asian influenced. The kimono-like costumes were great. Each dancer has a red stripe down their face. The duet between Scofield and Ezra Dickinson, each in matching halters, was captivating. Much of the movement was like time-lapse Butoh, sped-up slow motion as it were. During the second half of the piece a man at the back of the stage behind a plastic scrim pastes up red squares. The set design and visuals by Juniper Shuey were beautiful and eerie. This troupe is definitely one of the best in the Northwest. Scofield is a powerful performer and choreographer.

    posted by sara @ 11:02 am | Permanent link

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    By Joshua Kohl

    It strikes me that the performers from Monster Squad love performing.  There was definately passion and excitement coming from the performers on stage.  The sets for the show were extremely nicely made, but perhaps not as well utilized or integrated.  The set of rolling and folding walls (which through video projection also become windows) were interesting in that in various parts of the piece, you could only see a wall, and just a glimpse of what was happening behind it.  A character would also be walled off by themself in a seperate room. Im not sure quite how carefully the various combination of walls and corridors were considered, as there was quite a bit of time where there was really nothing to see. But through these constant changes the space WAS transformed and it was cool to see the space broken is such untraditional ways.  The transitions were really strained though I thought.  Constant "off" moments when the characters were to rearrange the stage.  And at one point the stage hands (who were not in costume) had to come out and assist (that broke the scene for me a bit).  Overall I got the sense that this is a work in development (I know this can go on for a long time before a work matures).  The dances are a beginning, the scenic elements are only just beginning to be explored.  The music was really thick, but I wish it was edited more carefully.  Songs would just  get chopped off and then others restarted without aparent consideration.  I did for sure enjoy the feeling from the cast.  There was alot of love on stage (and not just the romance scenes).

    There was alot going for this piece.  The performers really dug deep and gave everything.  It was a really cool and interesting combination of dance that I can only describe as organic ballet.  Ballet infused with yoga and modern and...  other stuff.  The images were really beautiful.  In the background the paper installation guided me.  I could tell from the pattern of red paper which would be laid out in perfect rows from stage right to left slowly and as the artist was moving accross, the papers put up first would be slowly falling from the wall like leaves.  I could see time passing and the past being erased.  It was a strang feeling to know exactly how far along the piece was.  Now were are half way through.  Now the piece is nearly over.  That was a clever element.  Experiencing the inevitibility of time.  The peice really succeeded in setting a strange mood.  The deep colors, the smoke, the beautiful bass clarinet music in the opening.  Some of the dancers' expressions were absolutely georgeous to watch.  A really mysterious feeling came accross from it all.


    posted by sara @ 9:06 am | Permanent link

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Thursday, February 16
    Reviews of Monster Squad & Marty Schnapf and Zoe Scofield with Juniper Shuey and Morgan Henderson coming soon!

    Check back at noon on Friday!

    posted by sara @ 5:35 pm | Permanent link

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