T:BA Digest DAY 4: A Bridge Near-Far

All right gang, its Monday, we’re back to work and the week is slowing down. On Thursday, things ramp up until Saturday when it all pops. Sunday there will be that somber feeling of loss in the air. If you want to soak that feeling in completely, attend everything on Sunday. You’ll know you’ve taken your last chance at catching some things. If you’re like me, you will have absorbed so much energy, so many performances, that you’ll be having an existential crisis and everything in your life is being questioned. That’s why I’ll be going to visit Andrew Dickson’s T:BA Life Coach performance on Sunday. But before that, I’ll hit Hampton & Tim Etchells. Their interactive performance piece will be available all the festival dates (to Sunday) at Central Library. But as mentioned above, it is Monday. Tonight, I’m catching only one performance: Brainstorm/Sahel Sounds.

Yesterday, I caught Miguel Gutierrez’ Heavens What Have I Done at WHS. This was a fun, humorous performance that was so casual, he could easily be criticized for sloppiness – ah but he called himself out on that; accept his approach then? I did. He started the show by walking out on stage with a backpack over his shoulder, as if he just walked in the door, and said, “Hi… the performance has already started.” He then instructed us to assemble on stage and sit within these blue lines on the floor. It was more than a hundred people and some spillover meant standing room only. For a one-hour show, it meant a lot that people would stand there and listen to Miguel talk. More explanation on the content of the performance is due.

Gutierrez went about extracting things from his backpack and setting up the stage while explaining how he had arrived at this performance through a festival in France that he never made. So many deviations and digressions about his love life, drug use, perspectives on art, being an artist, performer, teacher, gay man, New York resident, and such that you feel a little too intimate with the man. I’m not really saying there is a performance that is “too intimate” but you know, you’re kind of entrapped there; when the performer goes down to their underwear during a costume change and stops there discussing the books they’ve been reading, it’s kind of a moment with no choices. I won’t deny my personal bias; if I were attracted to him then I might really be up for it. And I have a feeling that if he makes your dick twitch, he knows that he’s done his job. Now I’m digressing.

It all culminates with Miguel in a Mary-Antoinette wig and this clown outfit that resembles, as he put it, “a float in a gay pride parade”. All the chatter and vulnerability he puts out leads to this rather touching, however bizarre moment, singing along to a recording of Cecilia Bartoli while writing on the wall, “The things you do the things you say you’ll do the things you’ve done the things you should have done what did you do what did you do what did you do what have you do.” To be clear, I enjoyed him.

Then I was off to Lincoln Hall for the only single showing of Kota Yamazaki/Fluid Hug-Hug for (glowing). This piece is cross-cultural, built upon a desire from Yamazaki to bridge Japanese tradition with contemporary experimentation and African dance, in honor of Tanizaki’s essay on Japanese Aesthetics. I found this performance to be the most beautiful that I have seen at T:BA thus far, this year. Narrative is not the important aspect of this piece and neither is technique. Like musicians experimenting with shades and timbers for the sake of tonal discovery, this piece experiments with repetition, imitation, manipulation, beauty, confusion, awkwardness, and listening for the sake of discovery in movement.

Culturally speaking, the dance was fascinating to watch. There were two African men, two European women, one Asian man and one woman (Yamazaki). Dancers moved from Butoh movements to western contemporary, to African tribal and who knows what else, back and forth until it blended like standing gummy bears in a plastic dish melting in the microwave. Narrative is not really happening here, it’s more at pure being. It was like watching people from a god-like perspective, without the masks we carry on from day to day. If you can see, even if through a staged dance performance, that all our tendencies, all our relationships are just events in our being, that we’re floating around on this stage called Earth, in movement, imitating, manipulating, being beautiful, awkward… then it can not affect you other than casually. That growth happens when you are willing to make that bridge, the way Yamazaki has or in any effective way. That is why I found this piece so touching.

UP FOR REVIEW WEDNESDAY: Brainstorm/Sahel Sound, Keith Hennessy, and Future Cinema.

Catch me this Wednesday at 8am on KBOO 90.7fm Portland interviewing company members with Keith Hennessy. We’ll be discussing economy and the arts.

Sean Ongley

By Sean Ongley

Co-Founder of THRU Media. A background in non-profit, music, and radio preceded my ambitions here. Now, I aspire to produce new media and publish independent journalism at this site and beyond.

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