Thanks to gloATL’s artist leader Lauri Stallings, Atlantans are finally getting to see more dance. In the past, dance was an art form that was removed from most tiers of society. Unlike music, which a person can experience anywhere, dance performances were typically produced in a theatre, on a proscenium stage, attended by the upper echelons of society, and excluded most people. The content of performances, mainly reflective of ballet companies, included an obsession with the supernatural, the unattainable, the otherworldly. Audience and performer were separated by the stage. Thankfully, things are shifting in the world of dance, specifically here in Atlanta.
As curator of the performance series, Tanz Farm: A Performance Anthology, resident choreographer Lauri Stallings hopes to expose Atlantans to the latest trends and tendencies in the international/national contemporary performance world. The Tanz Farm season consists of a four part performance series, the second of which took place December 14-16th in the Goodson Yard Performance Hall at the Goat Farm Arts Center in West Midtown, Atlanta. I had the pleasure of attending the Saturday evening performance.
Upon first entering the performance space, onlookers were given a moment to digest, No one to witness and adjust study #3: for forgetting, an installation by artist zoe | juniper. The audience surrounded the rectangular area on which the artists stood, lay, and sat like statues, with parts or all of their bodies submersed in sand. After a few minutes, the dancers began to stir slowly, and then shift more quickly into a cohesive phrase of movement under immobile, plastered suspensions hanging from the ceiling. The juxtaposition between the idle plastered suspensions and the pulsing dancers created an altered experience of time, and for a moment I found myself caught in a world in which motion is the pendulum keeping track of the passage of time.
Crevasse, the second piece in the program, explored the idea of two forces of equal strength acting upon one another. Dancers rebounded and released as they danced phrases of movement made by choreographer George Staib. The transference in the sound often reflected a kind of transference in the movement itself. Dancers often displaced each other in the performance space or allowed an arm to displace a leg as they moved on and off the elevated performance area. The piece ended in a blackout, and as the lights came on once again, five dancers in black congregated in a corner of the performance space.
Sidra Bell’s new work, Nudity, explored ideas of order and regulation in rigid social structures as well as in the art of classical ballet, and how these pressures can be manifested in the body. Each of the five dancers, all classically trained and powerful movers, moved in and out of gestures, classical ballet positions, and pedestrian postures to a driving beat. Bell’s choreography reflected physical research regarding the architecture of the body, as well as certain female and male archetypes. Bell was able to incorporate the audience into the piece intellectually, with regards to the concepts she addressed, as well as physically, with the sheer proximity of her dancers to the edges of the performance space.
To complete the performance, Klimchak, a solo musician, offered a composition of sounds as the audience exited the performance space. Overall, the performance possessed an organic flow from one piece to the next. The ideas presented worked in the space and the artists performing were fully present. The fact that performances such as Tanz Farm exist in Atlanta is encouraging to the Atlanta contemporary art scene as well as to the national/international art scene in general. I am proud to live in this city and to be surrounded by such talented artists.