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Joanna G. Harris
Performance Reviews
Performance Art
United States
San Francisco Bay Area
San Francisco, CA

Funsch Dance Experience - Funsch Solos: One on One

by Joanna G. Harris
March 9, 2012
450 Florida Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 626-0453
Joanna G. Harris
Author, Beyond Isadora: Bay Area Dancing, 1916-1965. Regent Press, Berkeley, CA, 2009. Contributor to reviews on culturevulture.net
Christy Funsch's experiment in showing solo dances to one audience member at a time is daring and delightful. I was able to see two solos on Friday, March 9 and one on Sunday, March 11 performed for me alone in addition to several works I viewed with other audience members. Her energy changed between each and as an audience we were challenged to see how and why.

Funsch's movement vocabulary for the solos shifted between expansive lyrical movements and small gestures toward and away from the body often touching her torso or face.

In my imagination, I have named the process "in and out", since these extreme changes echo thoughtful and emotional states, uncertain but provocative.

There were seven events on Friday (one was a duet) and eight on Sunday. Since most are short, it would be fascinating to tie them together and find an order that proceeds from one to another, thereby linking the material into a dramatic whole. Perhaps that will come next.

All the performances were noteworthy. I will deal with some I found outstanding and list those that are good and praiseworthy, since it is difficult to absorb all one's experiences in such programs.

"Three Rue Road" was a duet Funsch performed with Nol Simonse. It was almost three solos: the third was made for Stephen Pelton and done at Counterpulse. Although there was little interaction, these two dancers absorbed and employed each other's dynamic quality and design. Funsch's solo on the Friday program was "HammerHorse", a premiere to music by U2 and Fado Hilario. The piece was in two parts: the second resonated with a sense of horsiness; the first part was meditative with gestures that encircled the eyes. On Sunday, Funsch started the program with "Slip", a work from 1997.

I was intrigued by "White Girls for Black Power" danced by Phoenicia Pettyjohn. She kept her back to the audience but her large sweeping movement kept us focused. Fredricka Keefer's easy range and flexibility in "Salty Dog" was exciting as was the duet by Jennifer A. Minore and Glenn Curtis. Theirs was the challenge of dancing together at the same time, in the same space, but without contact.
It was fun to hear the Mills Brothers sing "Nevertheless" while Sarah Sass danced "Daisy". Altogether, a set of dances with great charm.

The program on Sunday seemed to bring together dancers who were given more challenging works. I was delighted to see the accomplishment of Chad Dawson, both in technique and acting projection in "To Mifune" (2007). He was smart, skilled and funny. Laura Elaine Ellis was glorious in her strength and balance in "Solo for Somebody" (2008). When she stretched out, she took us all in.

Erin Mei Ling Stuart conquered similar problems in "Pilgrim", those concerned with balance, stillness and this time, a prop. She started by playing the harmonica, buried inside a large coat, and finished that way. In between she went from expansive gesture to small retreats.

John Milton Hendricks, in "Desperate Kingdom", with music sung by Travis Santell Rowland, fascinated us with efforts to find comfort in piles of books, while Rowena Richie in "Box Elder II" struggled skillfully with headgear made of shopping bag handles. The humor inherent in these works require careful attention and give much delight.

Last and certainly not least was a new solo for Nol Simonse danced to music played by Alex Keitel on the viola de gamba. Entitled "Kneel Before Fire", it demonstrated Nol's skill and articulation. He is able to convey his devotion to the dance, his conquest of dance movement and his charisma as a performer with this, as with many of the soulful works he has given us in the past.

Brava Christy! Weave it all together and give us more.
Christy Funsch in 'HammerHorse'

Christy Funsch in "HammerHorse"

Photo © & courtesy of Lynne Fried

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