To spark discussion, the Walker invites local artists and critics to write overnight reviews of our performances. The ongoing Re:View series shares a diverse array of independent voices and opinions; it doesn’t reflect the views or opinions of the Walker or its curators. Today, dancer and choreographer Kenna Cottman shares her perspective on Thursday’s performance of David Zambrano’s Soul Project. Agree or disagree? Feel free to share your thoughts in comments!
It’s so different writing about something that’s just cool. Not super excited about it not super on fire about it — just cool. The Soul Project was cool but I will say that it made me feel my old soul. Especially when I arrived to see my parents and other elders in the dance community struggle with the format of standing and moving around and sitting on the floor. It pleased me greatly that David Zambrano reminded us to help each other view the solo dances. In the end, most of the moments I loved had to do with the soul music that ruled the evening’s playlist. So it was a cool night after all.
Dancer-wise, the two dudes, Evivaldo Ernesto and Horacio Macuacua, resonated with me — as I’m sure they resonated with everybody, but I wonder what the reasons really are? For me, these men interpreted the music, the spirit and the meaning and the groove, in a way that made me feel like the weight of the soul ancestors was being touched or explored in a familial, respectful type way. For instance I loved the white fro and the trembling piece to the DreamGirls ballad. I actually kind of hate that song and I started to walk away but I’m glad I saw it. The physicalized vocal histrionics and the trembling movements were making me laugh so hard and then it was the moments of stillness that killed it*. Mr. Macuacua provided me with my “steps,” as I say, and I loved that the format allowed me to just go ahead and dance with him at certain points.
Let me go ahead and talk about the format. Because I always have to wonder, what do artists want and how much do they want when the invite us onto the stage. Because I feel like Minne should become known as the town to interact. Like “Don’t come to Minne if you don’t want people to dance with you when you invite them onstage.’” We are starting to loosen up and get that vibe, so I did appreciate all the people bopping their heads and dancing. If I had a boo there I would have been slow dancing for sure. I felt like the performers wanted it and Nina Fajdiga even jammed with me for a second during the group jam. They looked me in the eyes when they were walking around too. I felt like they wanted a lot of interaction and we could have given them more. I also liked the format but I thought it would have been nice to: 1. have drinks onstage, 2. let the elders sit down**, 3. play some cuts after and let us dance more — or we could have just done that during the show, right?
Another point is that you invite cipher logic into the environment when you invite people on the stage. This means I get to talk, walk away, like it or not, and I get to jam the whole time if I want (as my friend Nancy was doing). Cipher logic is not the same as sitting in the theater seats logic but I don’t know if the Soul Project peeps realized that some of us think like that.
Lastly I will say that it was just cool because of a lot of the dancing, although it was highly physical and mostly interesting, was lacking in the connection to the music that I was feeling. I mean, there were only like two or three songs that I didn’t know played on the sound set that evening and I can feel some of those lyrics like I wrote ‘em meself!!! There were some moments when I was ready to walk away. When you play cuts like that you have to perform the hell out of them. I’m not saying you have to dance every beat but there is a certain energy that has to interpret those stories. Especially if we are going to do solos in close quarters. When I asked Mr. Zambrano afterward he said that he grew up listening to that music but the dancers had to be introduced to it. I know they were trying to make it but something was missing. It’s sad to say that some of them lacked soul — I wonder if that is what it is.
*the good kind of ‘killed it’
**they did provide gallery chairs