Archive for December, 2009

Tomorrow (maybe) shall be my dancing day…

Friday, December 18th, 2009

With two days to go before my due date, I thought I’d give those of you who missed the show in October a chance to see the solo I performed at 8 months with child.  Now that I’m SO encumbered, its fun to go back and remember a more lithe time in my recent history…though it didn’t feel so at the time.  Funny how 8 weeks can really change a body.  Anyway, enjoy!

J. David Dishman

J. David Dishman

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YouTube Video: Annunciation (excerpt)

Choreographed and Performed by Elizabeth Dishman

Text by Elizabeth, and the general populace (maybe even you!), read by Xan Burley

Music by J.S. Bach, performed by Justin Keller

Elizabeth assisted by Alex Springer and Edward Rice

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Review: Chunky Move, Mortal Engine

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

Last weekend I had the pleasure and delight of dragging my 9-month pregnant body up to the mezzanine and over a score of already seated patrons to the last remaining seat in the packed middle of BAM’s Howard Gilman Opera House one last time, concluding my 2009 Next Wave Festival subscription.  Honestly, with a new baby immanent and the weather frosty, it took my husband’s urging and driving skills to get me there…but I made it barely by curtain time (to my row-mates’ chagrin), and I was so glad.

A year ago I had seen Chunky Move at The Kitchen with GLOW, a solo work using amazing technology by which a white screen on the floor created real time, interactive shadows and shapes based on the dancer’s movement upon it.  It was real eye candy, deftly conceived and impressively realized.  So I thought I knew what I was in for and to some degree I did, similar to knowing that a forthcoming baby will presumably have a certain kind of wonderful anatomy and fascinating progress through life.

But there was so much more.  Mortal Engine lavishly expanded upon GLOW in both scope and depth.  The white screen stretched across most of the enormous stage area and was raked so that six dancers easily flowed over and across it.  The same kind of light play occurred in ever complicating responses to the expert and serpentine performers, including interesting sections that featured the lower quarter or half of the screen raised forward as a wall.  And late in the hour-long piece was a stunning section of green laser lines and shapes, shifting and flickering directly toward the audience through a moving 3-D canvas of smoke that was pumped from the stage and balconies.  The effect (at once planetarium, Stone Mountain and V—Ger) was hypnotic, and at one climactic point I seriously wondered if we all were being ushered into an altered state of consciousness.

If we were, nobody seemed to mind.  I’m always surprised when a NY audience responds to a work with no guile whatsoever, but genuinely, even palpably receives it with innocent delight.  Throughout this piece, and especially during the laser play, there were audible gasps of enjoyment and wonder.

The woman to my left was particularly gaspy, but I forgave her because I too was touched by Mortal Engine’s powerfully successful visual craft, which achieved its intended juxtaposition of cold technology with warm humanity to inspiring effect.  I must admit I was initially dubious of this goal, which seemed kind of hackneyed and with potential for just being annoying.  But they did it!  The piece managed that elusive and nourishing wholeness that balances head, stomach and heart (or the trinitarian Idea, Craft and Spirit, says Dorothy Sayers in The Mind of the Maker).  The concept, technology, set, costumes, movement and performers worked equally toward the machine/human interplay, and delivered.

I was frankly surprised at how poignant this theme became for me in Chunky Move’s capable hands.  Perhaps it’s the ever-evolving quandary of how to deal with progress, and the creator’s rich and complex relationship with the creation.  That sounds good, but I think in this case it had more to do with the performers.  Clad in various forms of semi-transparent pajama-y undergarments, these virtuosic and, well, technical performers held nothing back, but gave themselves fully to the work in the most human way, evoking such a range of emotion while staying true to the work’s abstract aesthetic.  They were fierce, they were bored, they huddled together, they exploded apart, they made love, they just stood there, and always with a most inspiring courage to be both masterful and vulnerable.  At the curtain call, when the light shone directly on all of them for the first time, I warmed even more to these exquisitely accomplished and chiseled men and women, each of whom wore a refreshingly appreciative, almost sheepishly meek smile, as if so grateful and amazed to be a part of such an effort.  Those Aussies.  In short, thank you David for getting my belly in that seat, and thank you Chunky Move for offering this well-founded work just as I myself prepare to engage in some seriously human (but hopefully not mortal) engineering.

Selvedge

Friday, December 4th, 2009

Photos of Selvedge by the fabulous Denny Renshaw…

leah ives

leah ives


stephanie miracle and leah

stephanie miracle and leah

ed rice, xan burley, stephanie and alex springer

ed rice, xan burley, stephanie and alex springer

ed and xan

ed and xan

xan, leah and alex

xan, leah and alex

xan, leah and alex

xan, leah and alex

everyone...

everyone...

everyone...

everyone...

leah, ed and stephanie

leah, ed and stephanie

alex and xan (and leah...)

alex and xan (and leah...)

seam: check.

Friday, December 4th, 2009

Whew.  It’s been 41 days since seam‘s closing night at 100 Grand loft theater in SoHo, and I’m just now feeling able to process and enjoy the rich, satisfying, exhausting and thrilling experience of it all.  Other than a feverish bout with strep throat during shows 2 & 3, all went very, very well.  Thanks to everyone who came out, including my 99 year-old grandmother from CALIFORNIA!

With each production, I continue to ponder why we do what we do as creators and, more specifically, as self-producers.  It really can be a harrowing task, but somehow I keep going back.  A glutton for punishment??  Maybe.  Addicted to adrenalin?  Probably!

As to my vote for Element of Greatest Enjoyment, I’m torn between the months of building a work with gorgeous and creative dancers, and the few nights of interaction with open and resonant audiences.  I am always amazed and enlightened by what the audience brings to and draws from the work…it’s such a delight to talk with people after the show and hear their reflections, which teach me so much about making and sharing the art of dance.  This time around, the long creative journey contained much of that give and take as well, since I delved for the first time into a more intensive collaborative approach.  Heartfelt thanks goes out to the brilliant cast and contributors from my group work, Selvedge–Xan Burley, Leah Ives, Molly Knochel, Stephanie Miracle, Kaitlin Morse, Edward Rice and Alex Springer!!  And also to the other artists who contributed their dynamic and textured work to the show–alexanDance, Miriam Hess Crowell, Stephanie and Jimmy Miracle and lighting designer John Eckert.  I love this community…