Thursday, December 10, 2009

What a Weekend....

I am getting to it a bit late, but that matters little, because my excess excitement from this weekend - Wild Goose Chase Cloggers 30th Anniversary Show weekend - is still as sharp as a tack.

Mixing wonderful, varied people, a kitschy space, a lot of food and a bit of liquor, and any kind of dancing creates an excellent cocktail. In the days to come, I was looking forward to the weekend while also feeling like it might get a bit long. It did not take long into Saturday's practice to realize that the second part of my assessment was incorrect - the time went by all together too quickly.

The people - these people, pulled together by a love for old time music or clogging or rhythm-making, come from all sorts of work backgrounds, many different places, are of many different ages, and their other talents and interests are amazing and varied. Among the stand-out people experiences was meeting and chatting with an ethnomusicologist, who happened to be one of the hosts of the party that was thrown Saturday night. Though I met him on my way out the door, he took the time to chat with me and answer some questions about grad school. He was, in fact, so invested in the conversation that he took me up to the library to grab me a couple of books, excitedly insisting that I must give them a read, and then drop him a call to chat about them! This is just one example of the kind of quick connections and support I felt throughout the weekend.

Of course I cannot overlook the space in which we operated. Moving our efforts from the Oddfellows hall on Saturday to the Bedlam on Sunday for rehearsal and the show, I keyed in to the fact that there is always something about getting into the actual place where you will be performing that lights your insides on fire. Bedlam especially - it is the kind of place you can come into and feel like you are at home - for the amount of time that you have it to present your show, it morphs to feel like you have lived there for years.

Over the course of the weekend, I also could not help but notice how much these people seemed to love food! The food at the party was immpecable, the food that WGCC founding member and now event-planner Greg brought to the Bedlam on Sunday was ridiculous, the amount of food and drink lavished across the crowd at the end of the show was far beyond what I imagined. This piece of the experience leads me to one thing - these people like to enjoy themselves, and the things that create enjoyment are simple things - good people, a good place to be, good food and drink, and most importantly - music and dancing.

Oh the music and dancing. Live cajun music and social dancing, Irish music, old time music, bluegrass music, bagpipes, clogging, waltzing, square-dancing.....yes, this all happened within the span of 36 hours. I have mentioned to a couple of people that the more time I spend studying and practicing dance, the less and less I am interested in perfecting and presenting things that 'normal' people could never do. This is not to say that I am completely un-interested in a wow-factor. The kind of wow-factor I enjoy is one that is, after development of a love and dedication, and some practice, accomlishable for anyone who chooses it. Dance should be about the practice as well, not just the presentation. When brought up in concert dance, one spends so much time preparing for and worrying about a one or two or three time shot at showing people. When involved in social dance, the experience of doing is just as important, if not more, as is the presentation of an end result to outsiders.

More eloquently, I am becoming more interested in dance that asks you to join in rather than to just watch. Breaking from the show into a square dance was absolutely inspirational - asking the audience to share the floor and come spend time dancing - to me, dance should make you want to hop out of your chair and join in!

To sum up this random jumble of thoughts, I took away so much from this weekend in regards to how I practice, think about, view and experience dance. This group as already inspired me so greatly, and I am looking forward to what I am guessing will be a lot more time dedicated than I had initially expected!

Cheers to the practice being just as important as the presentation.

SHOW ROUND-UP: Shows seen 11/6 - 12/4

Wake The Dead
Rainy Day Cabaret at the Old Arizona Theater
November 5-7

Much Ado About Nothing
Prior Lake High School Theatre
November 5-13

Mixed Blood Theatre
October 16 - November 22

27th Fall Concert
Zenon Dance Company
November 19-29

***The stand-out; 'Booba' by Andrea Miller, Artistic Director of Gallim Dance in New York City. This dance is an excerpt from the larger work 'I Can See Myself in Your Pupil,' of which excerpts can be seen on YouTube - I literally laughed my ass off the whole piece. Laugh out loud kind of laugh. The sheet randomness, oddity and ridiculousness of the movements, facial expressions and formations was enough for this dance to need to exist.

I was also extremely kinesthetically affected, as the more I explore my own movement tendencies, the more I find myself wanting to move in abnormal yet rhythmic ways. It is arguable that all dance is composed of abnormal movements - movements outside of what the body does to locomote itself through the tasks of daily life, such as walking, standing, eating. To a dancer, at a certain point, all widely accepted and taught dance vocabularly becomes normal movement, movement that is used to locomote the body through a regular day. Maybe my desire to move in splayed, gyrating ways to complicated rhythmic patterns it is due to a partnership beween my want to explore movement outside of regular, taught dance vocabulary and to listen to music with rhythms that make me want to dance. Whatever it is, this piece hit me hard in the heart and the funny bone, and injected me with inspiration.

Bedlam Theatre
December 3-19

Sounds of the Season
Bloomington Medalist Band
December 7th

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