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After the Dance

November 19, 2015

Went on quite a lovely date tonight with my buddy Amy… a friend from way back in the new mom’s group days–wine and [fantastic] apps at Vini (I’m telling you… I’m really enjoying that place), then a dance performance at the Mondavi.

Totally girls’ night out stuff. Jim just would not have enjoyed any part of it… ‘cept maybe that bruschetta with the preserved lemons.

I don’t have a full dance review in me… just don’t have the words, and am too sleepy to find them, plus, while I’ve never attended a dance performance that I didn’t love, just because: dance, the show was something completely outside my realm of experience, and apparently, appreciation.

The  dance company was Akram Khan, and they performed kaash, “Hindu gods, black holes, Indian time cycles, tablas, creation and destruction,” with a focus on “physicality and precision.”

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Sounds GREAT, but I didn’t pick up on any of that.

The movement was not beautiful to watch; the music wild, often rhythmic, but not entirely pleasing; there was no set to speak of; and there was a sameness to the whole performance–an uninterrupted hour–all of which just left me uninspired. I learned later there wasn’t even a story being told; it was soulful and powerful and largely coordinated, but also in-the-moment expression, different each time they do it.

But there were aspects that will stay with me, for better or for worse: 1) There were large portions of the performance done in silence… the only sound in the theatre was that of the occasional cough or rustle of programs, plus some stage thumping. It was a little disorienting, but interesting; 2) There was a moment, a very long moment, perhaps an entire minute, where the five dancers left the stage and the sound track was a loud, engine-like roar, which got louder and louder as the minute wore on. Very anxiety-provoking, but I won’t forget it; 3) Two of the five dancers joined the show’s director and a moderator for a post-performance Q&A which we stayed for. It was a very small audience, but it was intimate and extremely illuminating. After hearing details of the dancers’ experience of the show, I had a greater appreciation of what I’d just seen. Nice to make a connection between the art and the regular old humans that produced it. They’re young and fierce. What’s not to love about that?

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Not sure I’ll rush out and attend another Akram Khan performance, but I learned a lot and was left with a far more favorable impression of the company and what goes into a show like that.

Actually, the most memorable part of the evening may be the moment when–comfortably ensconced at Vini, wine in hand, an array of appetizers spread before (only partially consumed as yet), talking casually about this and that–we realized it was 7:45, the show started at 8:00 and, according to a pre-show email sent to all ticket holders, there would be no late seatings. We were up shit creek and really didn’t have a prayer, but decided to go for it anyway. Amy ran to get the car–parked deep into the train station parking lot several blocks away–while I paid the bill. We then rushed through downtown avoiding an unusually large bunch of Thursday night revelers, got to the Mondavi and decided, for expedience, to park behind the under-construction museum. We RAN the entire way to the entrance, threw our tickets in the direction of outstretched ticket-taker hands, and were urgently directed to the correct door, whereupon ushers escorted us hurriedly to our seats. With seconds to spare, we made it!

Odd performance aside, nice evening.

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