Armitage Gone! Dance, SF

Written by:
Joanna G. Harris
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Going, going, gone

Armitage Gone! Dance
Choreography by Karole Armitage
Novellus Theater, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco
May 18, 2012

It’s not easy to characterize Armitage Gone! Dance as a pleasant, refreshing performance event, especially if one expects to see choreography, thematic material, expressive behavior or any of the traits seen in good concert dance. Karole Armitage, once known as the “punk” ballerina, seems intent on throwing virtuoso technical moves at us, rarely varying from minute to minute.

“Three Theories” (2010) apparently takes its name from the three sections notable by costume changes, although there is a reference in program notes to Brian Greene’s book, “The Elegant Universe.” The first takes place in tiny black bikinis for the women, tight black trunks for the men. The second introduces white leotards on the women and white trunks for the men. The third section is all in white: the women don toe shoes (except for one, Masayo Yamaguchi.). No matter what the costume, the movement material remains constant. It consists of: walking and/or running onstage; finding a partner; kicking one or both legs high in the air: being lifted and held over a partner’s head with legs split; grabbing one’s own foot and stretching it up to one’s ear; falling down; rolling over, usually over another. Once in a while, leaps.

It is important to praise the dancers for surviving this 65-minute acrobatic trial. They are: Sara Beery, Megumi Eda, Sean Hilton, Abbey Roesner, Bennyroyce Royon, Marlon Taylor-Wiles, Emily Wagner, Mei-Hua Wang, Jacob Michael Warren, and Masayo Yamaguchi. The loud music was “Bang” (and there were continual bangs); “Relativity”; “Raga Jog: Vila bit Entail” and “Quantum,”
all by Rhys Chatham, except for “String,” and “Dark Waves” by John Luther Adams.

A program note says that Armitage “created this work using some of the scientific theories (in “The Elegant Universe”) as a “springboard to generate movement and explore geometry, patterns in space and structures of rhythm.” Alas, almost none of this was apparent. The gymnasium, the extreme technical achievement of nearly naked bodies and a nod to TV dance is what seemed evident in Armitage Gone! Dance. Too bad. There is much potential skill, talent and the potential for something better. I thought Punk was over.

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