Connecting the dots and seeing them dance

This weekend I was fortunate enough to see some great dance in Tampa. On Friday I attended a workshop by All Out Rep – a dance+theater company that showed a series of dance compositions relating to their field work on addiction, inspired by stories from recovering women from Rose Manor. The show is called “Addiction: The Moment of Clarity.” It was well executed and you could see how much this piece meant to each of the performers. They definitely hit many good moments throughout the piece through their body expressions and movement. There was a moment of sheer beauty in the ending with the various spoken words mixing perfectly with the dance phrases. You could tell they were working through the piece still, seeing what worked and what didn’t, though as it was presented it was very professional. It definitely seemed to be closer to a finished product than a work-in-progress. It was good to see that they were handling difficult, sensitive subject matter without a heavy, patronizing hand. I look forward to seeing more of what’s to come with the piece as they plan to incorporate a theatrical narrative structure into it among the dance and prose poetry and soundscapes they had utilized. It’s amazing to see original work that’s meaningful and interesting happening in this city.

This weekend I also attended Square One’s Magnum Opus – a gigantic Gala Corina-like art show that involves fashion and performances on its stage at the Ritz Theater in Ybor. Their main focus is on bringing the various arts communities together in this city and I applaud them for undertaking this major task. At Magnum Opus, I saw a number of great performances and some excellent visual art. I was intrigued by a dance company whose name I didn’t catch. There were a number of companies including Kinetic Dance Company, HEMISPHERE Dance and Bella Dance Company. This particular group had a composition where all four women carried what looked like sand/snow and dropped it before starting this rapid series of movements where they each struggled to get out from under what was dragging them down. This was a strikingly vivid highlight of the piece, though there were some real gems of beautiful movement throughout it, but it did end up becoming slightly muddled in the middle though that did not detract from the overall piece. Still, I was really excited to see a company putting on this type of abstract dance work. Some of the phrasing they executed was very difficult and very brave as well. I started wondering where all of these dance companies were springing from suddenly. I rarely see great dance presented in this city and even more rarely do I see original works being created and performed here. It’s a sad thing, but after this weekend I think maybe the real truth is that its here but it’s hiding in the woodwork. I believe many innovative artists living in this city are hiding out as well.

I’m really curious as to how one can overcome the disconnection that this city’s energy builds. The urban planning here is abysmal (and I’m sorry Light Rail proponents…you all are jumping the gun a bit by wanting to link Tampa-Orlando-Miami with a train. Maybe the focus should be on creating a working public transportation system within each of these cities before we try to link them together). The amount of urban sprawl here is continuously growing and it does lead to a real sense of not feeling connected to others within the various communities. Everything is very separated here. You have to really be involved to get a sense of some sort of working community, otherwise you’re sort of in permanent vacation land.

Anyways, I have more to say on this and how it affects the burgeoning (infinitely stuck in its ever burgeoning mode) artistic community in Tampa. It is amazing how much infrastructure and architecture really do affect all of us. I’ll save that for the next post. In the meantime, if you live in Tampa you should look these dance companies up. They’re making new work and that’s something everyone here should support.