T:BA Mid Week Report, tEEth, Radio Show, New Musics



“What is Time Based Arts?” is the question to most people who aren’t abreast to this event. And it remains the question, even to our veterans. We can read those definitions from the art world, the dictionary, the wiki’s, but it’s not the described. And, in taking two days off from the event myself, I am considering it from the point of view, “why should I go to Time Based Arts?” There is nothing keeping me from it, there is nothing keeping me at it; I have a free pass, and yet nobody is relying on me to cover this event. I guess, what I’m saying is that, I can not very easily turn my back on it, even when my life is in pieces. “Because life is time based, my time is already stretched, why do I need to add this festival to my complications?” Well, the answer is obvious; I absolutely must add this to my complications. I’ve seen the event, and I can’t go back to ignoring it. And this is precisely what I feel as I write, on day eight, waiting in line for Teeth. I hope I get in, it has been a sold out show, every night. Because I could not make the Wednesday show, I am here now, Thursday. So, after the festival has ended, I will tap it all in to the keyboard. For now, let me catch you up on a couple of shows that I’ve made since Sunday, my last posting. Firstly, I’m sorry I missed “Experimental ½ Hour”.

RADIO SHOW by Kyle Abraham

Let me just say, even though it is not allowed to snap shots of most shows, I couldn’t resist. I really found this show stunning. It was tremendous, touching, loving, daring, colorful, sexy, multi-cultural, athletic, and sexy. Sorry, but not only were the movements technically impressive, the dancers fantastic, but they were also all quite beautiful -- and not the usual beauty of most dancers, this company is entirely gorgeous.  The program doesn’t simply challenge racial perspective according to modern radio; it deals with sexual and romantic relationships, co-dependency, personal insecurity, ambivalence, strength and integrity through social pressure. Because I am only over-viewing each performance, I really can’t say much. As for this moment, “Radio Show” stands on the top of my list thus far.


As this was not on my list to see, and the fact that tEEth was booked solid and I could not get in, I ran over to WHS because it was the only performance I could feasibly catch. The performance was kind of felt like a PSU chamber ensemble. Not that impressive, I am sorry to admit. It was possibly under-rehearsed. Knowing how busy many musicians are, I am not surprised if it was. And I am not really that bothered. It was lovely music. But it didn’t hit me quite right. Now, admittedly, I was just getting off from my job delivering the Portland Mercury to 97 different drop sites around the southwest hills of Portland. And, I was kind of stressed out. Something most journalists don’t tell you: we often lose patience and space out. We don’t want you to know that we are fallible and lose our attention span from time to time. So if I missed something about this music, then I am sorry I did. It was nice, but not that great for me.


And, truly, the tired energy I carried around with me led right in to the program at The Works. This one, I was just about falling asleep in my seat for. But, as I enjoyed the drones of the opening artist, Tashi Wada, I relaxed in my sleep in to a hybrid dream-life state. The sounds were relaxing, soothing. The visuals were minimal. I closed my eyes and just allowed myself to be there. Very satisfying. Following that was Grouper. I was very happy to see this. My friends and band mates, Tony and Alyssa were in the choir. Also, I am acquainted with Liz (Grouper), the composer of the piece. She has really developed her skill, and her energy is much stronger and larger than I’ve known in the past. The music was dark and brooding, droning, but actually with a soft, sensitive touch. And again, satisfying considering my mood and energy that night. If I wanted to party, I might have been bummed. But no, it was just right. The choir sounded lovely. It was conducted well. The music carried me through the walking dream state reality I was living in and made the night. Happily, I left early though. I didn’t care that the headlining performance was soon to  begin, I was tired.


With exception to only this show, am I writing my review immediately following the performance, largely because I said I would review it and had intended to watch it days ago. It was fascinating. The movements were not about grace, and yet they were graceful. The duet involves mutual contortions of the body that speak directly to awkward memory, recollections of social and personal discomfort with oneself and others. Of course that’s me. It is no wonder that tEEth is the hottest new Portland dance company.

Firstly, the soundtrack, the score, is gorgeous, emotional, and cross-generational. It sounds like Erik Satie was resurrected by record producer, Nigel Godrich, and composed a score with the help of Thom Yorke, and a resurrected Charles Ives. The fact that I would drop four of my favorite artists in a review is a major compliment from this writer.

Secondly, they are daring. The show is borderline obscene; certainly nudity is not uncommon in contemporary dance, but in this particular context, it nearly appealed to prurient interest but kept itself from that. The abstraction of sexuality and the way the our choreographer managed to make you feel awkward whenever the scene became too charged with sexuality takes an eye for detail and a soul purpose for the work that really can not be simply boiled down to getting people horny. But what was the purpose? If the performance is taken as a glimpse in to the personal realm of romance and the difficulties loving someone, then I think we’re missing a bigger interpretation. In the beginning, that makes sense, because it starts literally under sheets. But at the point that they are nude, it really has no personal aspect to it any longer. The couple in the story is representative of men and women. The story may go back to them, individually, but as the moral goes, we are Man and Woman, together.

I feel now that I’ve said all I can about this piece without further investigation in to the story itself. I am now compelled to ask this couple, the real live couple that choreographs and scores this work, on my regular program, Un|Herd. Please keep and eye out for that, and an ear.




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