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Performances that Stick With Us

My nineteen-year-old self sat eagerly in a dusty theater chair in Oak Park, just outside of Chicago. Seated in the top row of the 150-seat Doris Humphrey Memorial Theater, I attended an evening-length program presented by MOMENTA, a performing arts company dedicated to restaging historical modern dance works. The performance included reconstructions of Incense by Ruth St. Denis, works by Doris Humphrey, and Fire Dance by Loïe Fuller. In Fire Dance, yards of fabric billowed in the theater’s rich hues of light. Triumphant music accompanied the dancer as she spiraled her torso to catch new air under her silk costume that was propelled by prop extensions attached to her arms. Although my attendance of this performance is a decade behind me, the image of a dancer, grounded and centered in gusts of crimson fabric, is vivid. She showed her body’s triumphant success of performing the physically-demanding choreography of Loïe Fuller.

When we think about making dance, we think about the subjectivity, the thoughts of the the potential audience members, how the dancers feel and understand the movement. I urge dance makers to also look at the what parts of performances we view stick with us-even years after we see the work. What is it that makes it so vivid and memorable? Or, is it something that we can't fully articulate in words. That would be acceptable as well. As long as we try.


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