Thursday, April 17, 2008


Last month my friend Michelle invited me to go with her to a show at the Lied Center. The performance was by a very prominent modern dance company called Pilobolus, and although I've never been a big fan of modern dance, I like hanging out with Michelle, so I decided to take her up on the offer.

Let me first just say that it's kind of weird that I'm not big on modern dance, because I'm generally a pretty huge fan of anything dance related. I love watching ballet, jazz, ballroom, hip-hop and almost any other style of dance. Most of my friends also know that I'll even bust a move myself given the right opportunity, or sometimes even given the wrong opportunity. I have a hard time standing still, sitting still or keeping my toes still whenever I hear a good beat or anything melodic. My husband will attest to the fact that I'm notorious for spinning or leaping across the kitchen floor. Dancing is something I've loved all my life, so I think it's kind of odd that I can't seem to get into modern dance.

Despite the fact that I'm not a fan, I decided that I'd keep an open mind going in to this modern dance show. After all, Pilobolus is apparently one of the most unique and entertaining dance troupes in the country. They've won numerous awards and have been featured in many television commercials, at the Oscars, and on Oprah. Their work at the Academy Awards was especially cool, so I thought that if anyone was going to convert me to modern dance fandom, then Pilobolus would.

To put it bluntly: they didn't. I have to admit I just don't get it. I just don't get the contortions and the rolling around on the floor and the cryptic symbolism and the purposefully slow movements. Somehow it just didn't interest me at all. Most of the time I was either fighting to stay focused or fighting to figure out what the crap was going on.

The first piece in their show was fairly simple to understand. There was clearly a girl on the beach who got dragged into the ocean and played with a bunch of sea creatures. Remember, I said that it was easy to understand--not that it actually made sense. The second piece was probably my favorite--a solo number called Pseudopodia performed by a guy who actually went to KU. The music for this dance was all drums and percussion, which was probably a big reason that I actually liked it--I love drums! Even though there was a lot of rolling around on the floor and gymnastic-like movements, the kid was still a great dancer. I thought the symbolism was something fire-related because of the intensity of the piece (and his red bodysuit), but after reading about it on the website, it turns out he was a tumbleweed. Go figure.

The third piece completely lost me. At no time during this dance did I have any earthly idea as to what in the world was happening. The piece was entitled Rushes, which unfortunately didn't offer any clues into what it was all about. There were people sitting in chairs, kind of looking like they were at a train station or something. There was a guy with a suitcase of some sort, maybe a traveling salesman? People were maybe getting roped into something? Then they were all walking around on chairs being slid around on the stage. I really have no idea. The Pilobolus website describes the piece as "an isolated community of broken dreams." Wow, that helps. Thankfully, I didn't feel like a complete idiot because when the piece was over, Michelle and I talked about it and she had no idea what was going on either--and she actually studied modern dance for many years!

By the time the fourth number started, I'll admit I was starting to lose focus. This piece was a male/female duet and was clearly something romantic and passionate, but it wasn't until I read about it afterwards that I became aware that it was a story of "inconsolable loss." I had high hopes for the final dance, which was a full-company piece set to high energy music. What I ended up witnessing seemed like a rather chaotic, fairly spastic group of people bouncing and convulsing all over the stage.

Despite the fact that I'm clearly still not a fan, I will say that I'm glad I went. My horizons were definitely expanded, I had fun with Michelle, and I can now definitively say that I do not appreciate modern dance, no matter how highly acclaimed the performers are!


Beth said...

Kim, that would have been no good for me either. My faaaaavorite part of the blog was this description: "an isolated community of broken dreams." What in the world?!

It's sort of like opera. No matter how hard I try to be "cultured" enough to Get It, I just don't enjoy it. I have come to grips with that, and maybe that's how you are about modern dance.

cw said...

W-o-w. T-h-a-t s-o-u-n-d-s l-i-k-e a l-o-t o-f f-u-n. S-o-r-r-y t-o h-a-v-e m-i-s-s-e-d i-t. R-e-a-l-l-y.

kjl said...

I'm picking up your sarcasm.