Women’s Night: Soaking Wet Festival Features 6
by Clare Byrne

Choreography by: Janet Charleston, Patricia Beaman, Barbara Mahler, Kate Digby, Molly Rabinowitz, Keely Garfield. Produced by: David Parker and Jeffrey Kazin. Dancers: Janet Charleston, Patricia Beaman, Barbara Mahler, Rachel Thorne Germond, Kate Digby, Molly Rabinowitz, Erin Reck, Keely Garfield, Omagbitse Omagbemi, Brandin Steffensen, Jonathan Belcher. Lighting design by: Jonathan Belcher.

SCHEDULE : Soaking WET Festival West End Theater March 6-9, 2008


“I enter the West End Theater for Soaking WET, a dance series presented by David Parker and Jeffrey Kazin and wonder, what is this space? As audience, we sit facing a semi-circular stage; huge velvet-draped windows rise above. I feel like I’m at the Globe Theater, and those drapes hide balconies of ghostly audience-members which would mean we’re the ones being watched. In the first show of the double bill, I watch five gifted female choreographers dance solos or duets: a glimpse into each of their lives, perspectives, relationships. At the end I think, what is this show for? The answer seems to be, to give performers an opportunity to perform. What are the performers performing? They are doing what they are compelled to do, for which they need space and a show: the act that gets them to the other side of whatever gully they have encountered physically, mentally, or emotionally.

Rites of passage are what we as audience bear witness to. That’s the thing: often we come to the performance thinking we should be given something when really, we’ve been called to contribute presence and energy to complete the happening. We are needed. It’s not a job for the unfocused or resistant. But like gods and fertile females, we must be courted. There must be sparkles or something to catch our eyes, hearts, groins. One more question: are the most necessary exchanges going to happen within theaters these days? My fantasy is that all such “opportunities” would vanish, disappear. Then I want to see where and how our necessary performances get done……..

….In “Wallflower” by Barbara Mahler, the choreographer starts against the back wall in jeans, glitter earrings in her ear. She’s lean, mature, with a short salt-and-pepper haircut. She tries out shapes against the back wall efficiently. In walks Rachel Thorne Germonde, a tall soft dancer. She curves, Barbara angles; they move without creating meaning. Then Rachel hooks Barbara’s elbows into a hold against her chest they are chest to chest, face to face and lowers Barbara to the floor, open and exposed, in a significant action. As they continue a duet, Barbara’s role reminds me of a Balanchine ballerina: the story is about her as she is pretzeled and promenaded. As the piece ends, Barbara gains ground, and becomes both story and teller.”

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