March 21, 2011
By Lisa Kraus, For The Inquirer
If dance is poetry in motion, it follows that some dances would offer the clarity of elegant verse and others, a more-challenging-to-follow complexity. The three works on this year’s edition of SCUBA, the grassroots dance touring program that includes Philadelphia Dance Projects, are on different spots on that continuum.
Seen at Temple University’s Conwell Dance Theater on Friday, they formed a useful snapshot of where younger dance artists are heading and yielded some exhilarating moments of movement and, yes, poetry.
San Franciscan Katie Faulkner, partnered by Private Freeman, achieved a luminous eloquence in Until We Know for Sure. They began and ended with one balanced on the thighs of the other, floor-bound, and scooting forward. In between, they rendered a complicated relationship through a moment-by-moment readout of small ecstasies and discouragements - sailing lifts and curious crumplings. At one moment, Freeman hoisted Faulkner from behind so she rested her chin on her folded lower arms, her legs free to sway right and left. It is the care in catching and highlighting in-between moments like this that makes this duet and Faulkner’s 2008 film LOOM wonderfully satisfying.
Philadelphia’s Jumatatu Poe, along with Michele Tantoco and a seated line of audience volunteers, performed Flight Attendants, using the dance as a place to chew on ideas about service. There are potent images - Tantoco popping out of a suitcase, a cyclical duet that started face to face and ended up thrown and tossed this way and that. Poe came apart at the seams in various ways, as does the suitcase that eventually wheeled him offstage. He delivered familiar aircraft safety info, but mixed with “J-setting,” a sinuous dance form that originated with drill teams.
Amelia Reeber from Seattle floated bunches of thoughts in this is a forgery, and a lack of connectedness or literal reference point worked to her advantage. Each audience member made sense of it for him or herself: Reeber tethered to one edge of the space unreeling the cords that bonded her legs, Reeber’s doppelganger seen in a video projection, there to witness and comment on her onstage presence, the cat whose image opened the piece, seated, patient, and observing. Reeber is a versatile mover whose fragmented investigations are particularly arresting. She’s on a cosmic quest, dappled in starlight, and on the way to getting it all figured out.