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AUDIENCE REVIEW: Mark DeGarmo Dance Salon Performance Series for Social Change
Mark DeGarmo Dance
As the sun sets on Thursday evening, May 4, 2023, in New York City, we eagerly anticipate the upcoming performances of the Mark DeGarmo Dance Salon Performance Series for Social Change. With both performers and spectators curious about the choreographic art, the reception of the performances, and the stories to be told, we turn on our cameras and join the Zoom meeting at precisely 7 pm.
Founded in 2010, the Mark DeGarmo Dance Salon Performance Series provides a unique opportunity to witness and engage with original performing arts and dance works in progress from guest artists. This virtual dance showcase has featured the work of 328 artists from over 23 countries since 2020.
The first performance, "Thermocline," captivated us with its first dancer in a contorted pose. Lit in blue, the song's mechanical sounds slowly grew more prominent, eventually congealing into a steady beat as another dancer appeared onstage and joined in. Their dance of give and take was both powerful and intimate. It ended with both dancers in the fetal position on the floor, facing each other. The second half of the piece showcased the theme of balance and opposition. Their movements acted as a call and response, seeming connected like the tide is to the moon as they played with the duration of their movements as well as their proximity to one another, One dancer held themself upside down for most of the dance, waving like the branches of a tree until the roving dancer joined in, inviting the first to dance in synchronicity. After a playful display, both dancers ended in a near-fetal position, but with echoes of movement still present in their limbs.
Kathy Luo's "Dialogue" created a sense of conflict from the start, with one dancer in a ball while the other circled them. The orchestral music lent itself well to contemporary movements, with unison and walking around before dancing with each other. The final dancer changed the piece, and the second dancer used their spatial relationship to oppose the first, leaving us with a thought-provoking interpretation of the discourse being personified. The company of dancers flowed in and out of trios, duets, and group dances and utilized the sizable stage to their advantage.
"As Above So Below" by Emilee Lord explored religion as a performance, making her piece and herself feel extremely vulnerable and personal. As she drew with black ink on her body, she danced through the motions of prayer and exaltation, commenting on them with her spoken words that colored her movements with a serene tone. As her piece went on, her tone shifted to an additional hint of contempt and ended with ritual repetition and her righteous chin up towards the heavens.
Finally, "You Don't Have to Love Me, Just Accept Me" by the sarAika movement collective showcased significant, flowy movements to an instrumental driving beat. The dancers started with weight-sharing and full body contact, solidifying their duet as one of connection and unity. The dancers seemed to be controlling the movements of one another like marionette and puppeteer, which can only make the audience question if it is by choice or force that the puppet dances. The dancer in gray ends the piece by building something or creating something from nothing, only to have the white dancer watch, before ultimately destroying it. The thought-provoking piece raises the question of what boundaries we set and what are we willing to sacrifice to maintain them.
Overall, the Salon Performance Series provided a powerful platform for diverse artists to share their unique perspectives and talents with an engaged audience. Artists can apply here to participate in the 2023-24 series: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSezFOlfhfiH3gL5KsJOKHUxXYuF24TGwTIOfWzqziC2cn5kKQ/viewform
Curtis J. Faulkner