Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Dance Review: Monk’s Mood, Thomas DeFrantz at Joyce SoHo

Slippage: "Monk's Mood" with Thomas DeFrantz As I walk into the Joyce SoHo the stage is already preset sparking my interest as to what is about to come.  A chair, a hanging dress and hat, a projection screen, and a coat stand with various coats and hats hang upon it.  Hmmmm.  I wonder…  I also notice panels on the ground and wonder what they are for. The lights go down and Thomas DeFrantz walks out and takes his position.

The show begins and the audience is taken on an abstract journey into the mind of Thelonius Monk.  We are literally looking into the apartment of Monk as DeFrantz expresses the different emotions and memories of certain important players that have inspired Monk throughout his lifetime.

The scenery is funky. Through tap dance and an occasional passé or battement, DeFrantz expresses a period where Monk is frustrated from being “passed over” for young musicians as well as an artistic love for his muse, Billy Holiday. DeFrantz approaches a picture of Holiday and “plucks” a gardenia from her picture in reference. 

Real Friends, Real Dancers, Real Pros.... Only on iDANZ.  Join Today!At another point, he shows Monk’s admiration for his wife in a very creative way by picking up a dress hanging in the background and begins to do a sort of abstract ballroom dance with the dress occasionally throwing in a shuffle or two.  For a one man show, this sequence is a very creative and interactive way to show love for a woman. 

Delightfully imaginative, we see monk dance happily around his apartment as a “parade of musicians.”   At other times, DeFrantz exhibits unhappiness and sits depressed in his chair.  Overall, the piece creates an emotional aftertaste that leaves the audience with the spirit of Monk.  And, for those who don’t know about the man, you need to get on it!

Slippage: "Monk's Mood" with Thomas DeFrantz The most intriguing part of the piece and focus of the work is the technology used.  At various points in the evening DeFrantz interplays with projection and music creating a composition that is unique to every evening of performance. Each panel triggers a prerecorded visual and/or audio sequence that DeFrantz is in control.  The panels are connected to a laptop where Eto Oro, the media artist who collaborated with Defrantz on this project, monitors the media and only interacts if there is glitch. 

The technology platform is created through a program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology that DeFrantz created called SLIPPAGE: Performance|Culture|Technology.  This collective’s goal at M.I.T. is to “stage alternative histories of race, sexuality, gender, performance, and technology.” What an innovative idea! 

In a post performance discussion DeFrantz expresses the purpose of the project and his hopes that other performers will be inspired to use the platform that he has created. This project seems very promising and is an important new addition to the history of dance and performance in general.

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Official Dance Review by JoiLynn 
Performance: Monk’s Mood
Choreographer:  Thomas DeFrantz

Venue: Joyce SoHo, New York City, NY
Date: December 11th, 2009
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