posted by Laura Moulton
She’s personable, casual and funny, cracking jokes and occasionally poking fun at herself. Rosanna Gamson told dancers in the workshop this morning that she wanted big, heavy and fast. Relaxed, but not slow. Early on, she said “I don’t really dance — that’s why I have these guys” and she gestured to Mike and Karen, two of her dancers. But Gamson went on to dance plenty herself, doing every move and hitting every point, dripping with sweat and still having the energy to laugh. Self-deprecating but clearly graceful.
Gamson demonstrated that one section of the dance is like unto a clock, (think 12-3-5) and her arms moved in quick snaps like a second hand. “The dance is like hands around a clock, and you don’t want to lose the pivot point,” she said. This repertory workshop moved fast–dancers had to be quick on their feet to follow each turn and snap. “When you don’t know what comes next,” Gamson said, “stand with aplomb until it comes to you.”

She ended with an exercise in which dancers moved across the floor, instructed to walk back and forth to the rhythm of the music, stopping occasionally to dance, but then going immediately back into the walk. Gamson encouraged dancers to interact with one another, and commended one woman who looked square at another dancer. This kind of pause to acknowledge another person was a recognition of humanity, Gamson said, that movement between subject and object. It’s the difference between a genuine interaction and just dancers simply moving on the stage. Everyone has a story, she said, and paying attention to another’s is as important as telling your own.
It’s this interaction that Gamson is most interested in. Though she taught a few different phrases, she said she was more interested in giving participants a taste for how her company had put together their performance.
“I’m trying to show how we come to work,” Gamson said. “I’m interested in very physical dancing, in using the whole self, brain and so on.” Her intention, she said, was a dance theater you put your whole self into — “That’s the bridge to engaging the whole self.”
The first performance of Gamson, along with World Wide & Contradanza, happens tonight at 9 pm, (Newmark Theatre, Portland Center for the Performing Arts). Shows also on Sat. and Sunday evening.