Kunst-Stoff Arts/Fest 2011, SF

Written by:
Joanna G. Harris
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A scene from “What Does It Feel Like to Kill Someone” by Mary Carbonara Dances.
The work will be reprised at Kunst-Stoff June 8-11.
Image from Mary Carbonara Dances website

Mixed Messages

Kunst-Stoff arts/fest 2011
Curated by Yannis Adoniou
1 Grove Street, San Francisco
May 21, 2011

Yannis Adoniou, in his company’s new home on 1 Grove Street (just above the Burger King and the non-working escalators of BART at the Civic Center stop), gave the studio over to a series of festivals featuring “new artists” work, works-in-progress by local professionals as well as potlucks, discussions and “meet the artists” evenings. The Kunst-Stoff space promises to rev up Bay Area dance.

Various experiments and accomplishments were on the boards on May 21.

“Strong Behavior: Dog Play #4,” performed by Jesse Hewit with help from Laura Arrington, consisted of a series of questions from Arrington followed by full body responses from Hewit. Sometimes there was no response; sometimes the question was not clear. Hewit evokes a dog-like charm. “Strong Behavior” is just one of many present-day efforts to individualize dance movement through strong feeling and accompanying gesture.

A solo entitled “Solo” by Julia Stiefel could be included in the “self-expression” category. According to her note, Stiefel based her work on “the idea of fitting into molds, archetypes and ideals.” Alas, we observed some movement clichés, but none were developed as dance, only as poses. The theme is a good one; it needs exploration and development as well as a better choice of music. Arvo Pärt’s “Da Pacem Domine” doesn’t work.

“What Does It Feel Like to Kill Someone,” presented here by Mary Carbonara Dances, is one episode in a longer piece to be presented June 8-11 at Kunst-Stoff. The tension in the work is compelling: a young man stalks a woman who resists, struggles, squirms and finally (we must assume) lies dead while an onlooker echoes the victim’s tension, but does not respond until the end. As a dance, it is a curious piece: the “victim” squirms, twists, and reaches towards her “killer” who, for most of the time, walks near her, touching her occasionally. Except for incidents of physical contact, he is close but until the end, not over her. Most disturbing, is the “onlooker” who seems at first disinterested, disabled and finally compassionate. The problem may lie in the studio’s space. The audience sits close. The dancers cope with a wide side-to-side space; depth and three dimensions don’t come into play.

Marina Fukushima’s “Me Too” is both funny and sad as studies in dependency tend to be. Fukushima, who is not tall, carries in Daiane Lopes da Silva, who is not only tall, but seems to have legs that “go on forever.” Slowly, Fukushima releases Lopes da Silva, who develops into an independent figure, letting loose in space, running, leaping and generally free of the caregiver, although she ultimately reclaims her, and is taken up again. At the end, Fukushima and Lopes da Silva are rocking together in an intimate seated position. A collage of music accompanied this work, so many bits that none seem necessary.

Christy Funsch, a San Francisco dancer who has given us many fine performances in the past, directed Phoenicia Pettyjohn and Sarah Sass in “They Live,” a work accompanied by video by Richard Something to a score made (again) of several cuts, including the radio series “Inner Sactum Mysteries.” Alex Keitel is credited with the sound mix. The video was projected on the right wall, to the side of the dancers who worked horizontally, right and left, through the wide studio space. Had the spacing been juxtaposed against the video, the whole might have been greater than the parts. No clear relationship was established between the two dancers, nor their relationship to the video images. The dancers seemed to be swimming in space. “They Live” is a work that will need movement and spatial strengthening. Pettyjohn and Sass need to go back to work.

The evening ended with Stephen Pelton’s strong work, “Epilogue,” choreographed by Funsch and Nol Simonse to music by Gavin Bryars. It was good to see a well-trained person carefully crafting movement and gesture in contained space to a score that was integral to the work. Bravo Stephen! We will miss your professional, imaginative performances as you work in England this coming year.

Kunst-Stoff is providing wonderful opportunities for audiences to meet the experiments in today’s dance. With some discussion, coaching and feedback, both audiences and dancers will profit from Adoniou’s arts/fest at Kunst-Stoff.

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