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Review: SuperGroup on Momentum with Pramila Vasudevan and Jennifer Arave

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, SuperGroup shares their perspective on Thursday night’s Momentum: New Dance Works, featuring works […]

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, SuperGroup shares their perspective on Thursday night’s Momentum: New Dance Works, featuring works by Pramila Vasudevan and Jennifer Arave. Agree or disagree? Feel free to share your thoughts in Comments!

Pramila Vasudevan, F6

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The stage was crowded with other audience members. I realized their attention was on the seats where several performers sat facing the stage. Kenna wandered through the crowd, finding space for her feet, giving sly looks at the audience.

What spurs discussion? Does just saying what the piece is spur a discussion? Or should we give opinions too?

As the members of SuperGroup we are trying to write an overnight review.

I had an impression of verging on a post-apocalyptic world where a society was being built by these characters that were left in this space, and they had to make a deserted island home out of these seats. They reminded me of characters. One had a ponytail, one had a fascinator; there was dramatic, romantic make-up.

The balance struck me – it seemed like they balanced on smaller and smaller surfaces. The challenge increased.

I wondered if they were going through the motions of a typical audience’s behavior: they laughed, they clapped, and they tried to get comfortable. Abstract, gestural movement punctuated that. It also evolved. There was slow, zig-zaggy movement leading up and down the aisle. I remember that and the image of very slow perching.

Are we supposed to be thinking about levitation?

The performers seemed to have a heightened presence and focus. They forced a close interaction, like when they brushed knees with us, but there must have been some rules of engagement that we were not necessarily let in on. They gazed intensely, but when we gazed back, they were ethereal, impenetrable, and separate. It wasn’t cold, but it felt like creatures checking out a different species.

The rhythms in Kenna’s solo were so precise and satisfying. The acceleration, the stopping and starting were…. Cool. Sharp. Spot on.

I have something else to say about the rules of engagement. The traditional rules were turned on their head, so I felt distracted by my relationship to other audience members. I was distracted by my own comfort and the viewing comfort of others. I was not fully invested in watching the performers because I was balancing that preoccupation.

I had a moment during the solo, where I wondered if something was being whipped up.  Meanwhile the formality of the rest, the triangle of light, the other performers’ slow, straight walking, these things were conflicting.

The sound transported me, especially when the slide didgeridoo started. I loved the bells on Kenna’s costume. As the didgeridoo got further and further away, in contrast to the shrinking triangle of light, the space and time were altered. It became vast, constant, expansive, and complex. There were those juicy guttural drones. Her movements were controlled and precise, but the sound had a water-like element: tense with possibilities.

 

Jennifer Arave, Canon

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She came out in a mask. She had those coveted red shoes and that powder blue coat.  These vestiges of girlhood, flippantly tossed alongside punk aesthetic – ripped tights, white t-shirt.

In general, I thought there was an awkwardness, from beginning to end, that drew me in. It was tantalizing. I was curious about it from the very start when she was in the corner, rocking, in preparation for this strange performance.

It was loud for sure. I was impressed by how loud it was in the space. I’m glad I used earplugs and I’m proud to admit it.

I didn’t use earplugs.

Good for you.

It was documentation or a representation of a kind of anger. Was she really angry about something?  Does it matter what the anger was directed at?

All members of SuperGroup are now admitting that we have never been to a punk show.  We speak with no authority when we talk about punk.

One time I was at a sort of ska-punk show. It was not cool.

The disassociation of the punk voice from the punk body made the movement a fascinating mix of aggression and impotency. These scenarios kept getting set up and then would fizzle out before there was a big payoff. It felt like a conscious choice, connected to the omission of the voice.

I wanted to be closer. I wanted to be put upon, to be made weaker in the power dynamic.  There’s something so safe about being so far away.

I think that was the point.

Even though the drums were visceral, the distance made me view it as a representation of something. If I had been down there, looking up at her, it would have been different.  The experience was still in the realm of a dance concert.

Yeah, that was the point.

The first time she really got to let her voice be loud and clear was when she ate the microphone. There was no constraint, finally, and there was a satisfying synchronicity between body and voice.

She deconstructed and re-contextualized most of the punk experience, leaving only the drummer and the lead singer’s movements.

I have a little more to say. Calling it “Canon” felt like a study, it felt clinical. So, I enjoyed her going into the medical scene. There was something symbolically sterile and exacting that referenced her process. This grand gesture, this surgery, represented the climax of failure, which ultimately satisfied.

We have to talk about the swinging microphone. It sounded like breathing; the image was like captaining a ship, being at the helm – the wind, the sound of the foghorn. The striding beat had dropped out and I was able to step out of the situation and have imaginative play.