This weekend Links Hall enters into a new era of arts curation and presentation with the culmination of the 96 Hours project: a play off of the typical 24-hour theater project or 48-hour film process. On Saturday at 1, 3 and 5 p.m., three teams of artists (listed below) will present their 20-45min creations from (you guessed it) a 96-hour creation process. On Sunday, the works will stream again consecutively at 5 p.m., followed by a virtual Q&A with the artists.
Introdans (Arnhem, The Netherlands), a tech-enthusiastic Dutch dance company, screened four performances Friday—“Wereldleiders,” “Face Machine” and “Blue Journey” by choreographer David Middendorp, and “Swingle Sisters” by Alexander Ekman—as part of the Digital JOMBA! Legacy series. Middendorp’s three pieces explore the relationship between 2-D graphics and 3-D lived experiences by choreographing the interplay between animation and physical performance.
I came home from a long day and sat down in my living room expecting to quietly watch some contemporary dance. If you, reading this, are familiar with Robyn Orlin and her work, then you’ll know that was not the case at all. Instead, I experienced something loud, blunt, a little confusing and the perfect antidote for passive, sitting-on-my-couch-watching-dance-on-a-small-screen that has mostly defined virtual performance up to this point of the pandemic.
A South African sunrise, reflecting iridescent swatches of light, flirts with a fluttering silk backdrop. Bleeding watercolor rainbows penetrate a translucent fabric hung from above the stage highlights clucking chickens projected on the feather-like backdrop. Moving into Dance Mophatong dancer SunnyBoy Matau oscillates and pecks as a bird-man, draped in a multi-purpose white dress made of dangling white t-shirts, which occasionally reincarnates itself in between banjo melodies as a gele, a baby swaddle and a fabulous accessory.
“’Revel’ is a gift of love. We made it, in some ways, for ourselves as a gift of love and flight and enjoyment. And if the film lands with someone else as a gift, or as a provocation, or as—whatever it lands as—then the film has done its work.” Alice Sheppard
BODYART Dance Company, based in New Orleans, LA, draws from various mesmerizing settings to spark new works. From an abandoned 1920s movie theater to a graffiti mural on Santa Monica Blvd., BODYART’s willingness to embrace location opens the parameters of what movement can be in a public space. It encourages looking beyond the traditional stage for performance and presents spaces that otherwise could go unnoticed.
“My music is the spiritual expression of what I am — my faith, my knowledge, my being...When you begin to see the possibilities of music, you desire to do something really good for people, to help humanity free itself from its hangups...I want to speak to their souls.”
― John Coltrane
COVID-19 shifted norms for many, including how theatre goers experience live performances. Lliane Loots, artistic director of the JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience, introduced the 2020 JOMBA! Digital Fringe by fervently reminding us that the platform promotes new voices, offering less “seasoned” choreographers opportunities to present their works on a professional stage.
As stores open up and everyday life begins the slow return to “normalcy,” it is expected that artists will be on the forefront of evaluating this new world. In fact, they’ve already started.
Contemporary dance artists Vincent Mantsoe and Ondiege Matthew premiered three short films exploring different perspectives during the COVID-19 pandemic as part of the “Dance in a Digital Age” platform, presented by the 22nd (Digital) JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience.
I tried to shake off my skepticism as I poised to watch the livestream of USA Dance on Screen, which aired Aug. 30 as part of the Digital JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience based in Durban, South Africa. I wondered how 10 short dance films presented in one hour could showcase the “varied American experience” as the four curators—Peter Chu, Rachel Miller, Lauren Warnecke, and Tara Aisha Willis—expressed in their curatorial statement. I am cynical about festival categories intended to represent a country, a feeling sharpened by global power disparities exacerbated in a pandemic.