tiffany mills company – elegy & godard
posted by laura becker
so…as i started typing this, no one yet had posted distinctly for tiffany mills, but there were EXCELLENT posts for everything else i’ve been to so far…so, even though i kind of wanted to write about the other stuff, i am dedicating this post to tiffany. but now i just hit refresh, and lisa radon’s review exists and it expresses and describes the piece so well too. i had a lot of trouble deciding what to write, and just now after i sat through kristy edmunds’ lecture, i realize what my trouble was.


on friday, i heard the beginning of kristy’s and erin’s noontime chat at PNCA, and as the performance started several hours later, i jotted down what i remembered erin saying earlier – “that’s the case for tiffany mills”. “that” refers to the length of time it takes for a work to get to TBA – the fact that several performers have been working with or talking to PICA for several years with germs or ideas for pieces and, in tiffany mills’ case, for example, it’s only this year that it could be part of the festival. i’m not sure of the stage of development that tiffany’s piece is at, but it was very crisp and seemed fully evolved in every aspect – the choreography, lighting, music and video – and how they worked together.
as lisa’s post noted, the performance included two distinct pieces – the first was “elegy” and it definitely had a spooky, almost zombie-like/invasion of the body snatchers kind of feel for me. one dancer moved with seizure like gestures. she had to be controlled by her partner and just when it seemed like he had calmed her twitches and fits, she was off again, transfixed by the jagged jerky choreography. in a more comic segment, another dancer’s arm was moving, clearly without his permission. he grabbed and bit his arm to stop its unruly behavior with the slapstick gestures of a silent movie clown.
all the dancers were incredibly talented and strong. they pushed and pulled and tumbled and lifted and swung and grabbed each other until they were all exhausted and lying on the floor, the twitching and fidgeting almost subsided but not quite. several dancers shed layers of their costume during the dance. the soundtrack for the piece, by john zorn, was mostly soundscapes, rather then melodious rhythms to match the steps. personally, i felt the dance was most enjoyable the rare times the sound was more musical, and when all six dancers on stage twirled and leaped in unison along with the beat. the piece’s uses of space and staging, as well as motif of steps and partners filled it out very well. but….
like lisa, i too feel like maybe we’re spoiled with portland’s dance scene – i distracted myself during the performance, i must admit, just trying to list all the wonderful dancers, dance groups and dance presenters in portland. and i actually enjoyed that thought and list process in my head a little more than just watching what i was seeing on stage.
now while i’m writing this i realize my trouble with first half of tiffany mills (which kind of left me entirely distracted during the second half) was that “elegy” was just a little too frozen and static and gloomy for me. even though i valued the serious thinking that i did during dj spooky’s lecture, i think it was just a little too much with elegy – whose definition of course is “a poem or song composed especially as a lament for a deceased person.” i’ve been so siked for this TBA surge to occur in me, to see the potential and the positive and the “yes yes yes” coming out of the festival and connecting to everything it touches, to me, and to what tomorrow now looks like for me and for portland for everything. and i just couldn’t get out of the moment enough to feel that.
but luckily, i will get to describe when i have that feeling when i post again soon, and luckily i have had that feeling during my tba moments since. i’m excited to see ‘locust: convenience’ tonight as someone’s comment notes that is the only performance worth kicking yourself for missing…