Ten tiny dances has a large following of professional dancers and non-dancers alike. I am decidedly one of the non-dancers (save doing what I like to call “butoh-Fosse-hip-hop” in my living room or “the white girl wiggle” at soul night). In years past the Ten Tiny Dances have spoken to both dancers and non, introducing the former to the absurdity and humor of the latter and the latter to the technical precision and intensity of the former. This merging of dance cultures is what is so special about the event. In years past there have been stages destroyed with axes, flags planted in vaginas, nine year-old girls soloing to Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer.” Almost always, there was this balance of precision, concept and humor. The event has been a magical blending of formal and fun, and something I always look forward to with anticipation. Unfortunately, this year’s Eight Tiny Dances–as it should have been called since it was two dances shy of the advertised ten–left me sweltering from the poorly ventilated conditions in the room but only lukewarm in terms of enthusiasm for the dance.
Despite an overall feeling that the dances as a combined unit were lackluster, there were some definite highlights. Meshi Chavez’s piece “Sending a Voice” was a feast of energy. The single male dancer (and choreographer of the piece) brought the audience into his world of containment and release. It was primal, sweaty and beautiful to behold. The costumes on Hot Little Hands “Didactic Identity” were well-conceived and lovely if not utilized to their full potential by the overly safe movements of the dancers. The Taiko piece, “Slipping Through My Fingers” was high energy and brilliantly choreographed, like when the primary dancer’s fan sliced through the air just as a male dancer ducked, barely missing the blade-like precision of her action. Then there was the first half of “Unveiling,” where the dancer sang and struggled with her veil in a compelling and engrossing way. All these highlights made the trip out to the event worthwhile. Ultimately, though, while the event had its moments of beauty, as it always does, Ten Tiny Dances #17 was not the most thrilling or affecting collection of dances to date.
–Emily Strelow