By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
Cunningham’s presence at the Alex concludes a season of strong dance programming at the Glendale venue, following performances by too-seldom-seen artists such as Susan Marshall and Meredith Monk. In a 1998 press statement, executive director Martin Kagan stated his intention to make the Alex the premier Los Angeles venue for contemporary dance -- a bid that is gathering steam and audiences. Cunningham‘s cool formalism may be a stretch beyond the entertaining populism of troupes the Alex has made a commitment to presenting, such as the Paul Taylor Dance Company, Momix and Pilobolus, but Biped’s cutting-edge animation technology is appropriate fare for the GlendaleBurbank area, the animation capital of the world.
In the week between Jones‘ and Cunningham’s appearances, the Joe Goode Performance Group (JGPG) presents the Bessie Award--winning Deeply There (stories of a neighborhood) at UCLA‘s Freud Theater. Like Jones, Goode is a humanist. Both choreographers share a fondness for lush, full-bodied and high-velocity movement, and both engage in an organic working process with their companies. Goode encourages his dancers to improvise with words, sound, gesture, humor -- by any means necessary in order to express a felt state as honestly as possible. The results form a unique amalgam that, more than anything referenced by the appellation ”dance theater,“ integrates singing with dancing and text; and the evening-length Deeply There includes a series of ”song-dances“ created in collaboration with Seattle composer and lyricist Robin Holcomb.
At heart Goode has always been a storyteller, but whereas in the past he has told multiple stories within one piece, with Deeply There he has constructed a single tight narrative concerned with the unlikely and ad hoc ”families“ that form in times of trouble or grief. Deeply There is at once specific and grand in scope: The titular neighborhood is San Francisco’s Castro District, the gay mecca for the past 20 years, and the unions are instigated by the recent passing of a lover (represented by a bodiless, rumple-sheeted bed). Goode says that the piece is a meditation on the dying process and our culture‘s inability to accept death, yet the specter of the AIDS crisis looms over the proceedings.
Although Southern California tour stops sometimes include Santa Barbara, Orange County and San Diego, it is surprising how little we see of Goode and his San Francisco--based JGPG in Los Angeles. Let us hope that a month like this isn’t a fluke, but rather bodes well for the rest of the year, exemplifying as it does the public‘s interest not only in dance, but in choreographic work that embodies our technological and cultural Zeitgeist.