scott wells & dancers

Scott Wells & Dancers
Muscle Memory”
Megan Lowe Dances
Finger Trap
December 8, 2019
Dance Mission Theater, SF

Double Bill

Scott Wells and his ‘all-girl’ band of improvisors brought delightful activity to Dance Mission this past weekend. With the lead of Mira Barakat and Shira Yaziv, tango dancers, Wells choreographed “a dozen improv scores: Peripheral 1 and 2, push crowd, flying score, stop/start, generator, trio/duo/solo, push/roll/ground/, unusual resting positions, remembering, chorus and distance.” The tango duet started and closed the event; the scores involved all ten dancers.

Contact improvisation has been around for some forty or fifty years now. I remember when I first saw Steve Paxton (of the early Merce Cunningham company) and his group. I asked why he “invented” contact. He said, “I was tired of being lonely on stage.” Whether that is true or not, “Muscle Memory” and almost all ‘contact’ performances involve balancing, lifting, throwing, rolling and resting (among other moves) with one or more participants. Wells’ group does it well. The moves appear to be effortless and (horray) full of fun! Individuals and groups form and reform, accomplishing their skills seemingly easily. My problem with all this is that ‘contact’ necessitating as it does, the forces of gravity, constantly reverberates with that dynamic. Most ‘modern’ or ballet dance resists gravity, pulling up and away. I guess you can’t have it both ways and ‘contact’ has become a strong contestant in the dance world.

Mega Lowe’s “Finger Trap” demonstrates very skilled duets with Brenton Cheng. Her piece “Remembering Things” quoted a nostalgic memory of her grandmother as did Cheng’s work “Liebestraum mit Zuge”. It is good to note those memories and dedications, but, to this reviewer, they did not influence the work or use them as references. Lowe and Cheng are very focussed and dedicated performers. Whether using poles, ropes or ‘finger-holds’ (two people share a narrow finger cylinder), they support each other beautifully. Special lighting for this section was by Harry Rubeck. Again, although the feats and focus are skilled and create a sense of physical wonder in accomplishment, the dynamic throughout is dominating by the lift and fall of gravity forces. One must accept this as a unique form of ‘dance’.

Wells dancers are (besides those cited) Sabrina Danielle Baranda, Liz Duran Boubion, Megan Lowe, Mel Mark, Kristen Rulifson, Carmen Serber, Rosa Ver, and Mindy Zarem.

Joanna G. Harris

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