Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Dance Review: Kate Weare and Monica Bill Barnes at The Joyce Theater

Kate Weare, Photography by Christopher Duggan I will be keeping an eye on two refreshing new choreographers debuting at The Joyce this week.

From August 9th through the 14th, Kate Weare and Monica Bill Barnes share a marquee with Camille A. Brown and Andrea Miller.  The latter two are both mentioned in Dance Magazine’s "25 To Watch" list, and while I love watching both sets of choreographers gain ground, I only have tickets to see Kate Weare and Monica Bill Barnes.  Nothing thrills me quite so much as witnessing fantastic talent emerge, and the two companies could not have been better matched.

Become a Member.  Join iDANZ Today! Kate Weare Company premieres Bright Land, a series of dances set to the live music of San Francisco-based folk band The Crooked Jades.  Seeing live musicians on stage as the curtain rose is enough to make me cheer, but, given that I am at The Joyce and (supposedly) am sophisticated, I restrain myself. (If there had been a gut bucket, things might have turned out differently.)  The dancers enter after the first number, dancing in silence for the first few minutes, punching elaborate rhythms with their breath and their bodies.  Weare’s artistry is genius in its simplicity:  the dancers create, and are ultimately swept up in, the cultural "rhythms" of life that folk music encompasses.  Throughout the piece, layers are literally stripped away as her talented ensemble tackle judgment, envy, love and death.  Kudos to dancers Adrian Clark and Douglas Gillespie for what surely is the most bruise-inducing series of choreographed push-ups ever crafted.  The overall effect is amazing.  Regardless of your appetite for folk music, however, you can’t help but think, "Kate Weare is one fierce choreographer."

Monica Bill Barnes, Photography by Christopher Duggan
Smart, witty Monica Bill Barnes, on the other hand, engages her audience on an entirely different level.  No one goes to a dance concert for the comedy. But I haven’t laughed this much at a dance performance since I watched Tandi Dupree drop from the ceiling into a split on You Tube. (Google it, people.) But while Miss Dupree induces shock mixed with hilarity, MBB’s dancers mix awkwardness with a painstaking desire to please.  Four skinny white girls walk onto the stage in frumpy turtlenecks and woolen school girl skirts and dance to James Brown.  Obviously, this is a prescription for comedy.  They know that you, the audience, are watching.  In fact, they’re trying desperately to entertain you.  In this recently reworked piece, Another Parade, Barnes lampoons the relationship between the audience and the performer.  The girls shimmy and shake, mugging and bopping through Bach and Bacharach alike.  At times dark, at times heartbreaking, and at all times unexpected, Another Parade is a smart, inventive evening of dance.

Check out Kate Weare and Monica Bill Barnes this week at The Joyce Theater.  These two companies are not to be missed!

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iDANZ Critix Corner
Official Dance Review by Molly Sorohan
Show:  Kate Weare Company and Monica Bill Barnes
Venue:  The Joyce Theater
Show Date:  Tuesday, August 10, 2010

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