Last night, I had the opportunity to see the world premiere of "Mechanics of the Dance Machine," the latest production from Armitage Gone! Dance.
In my humble opinion, Armitage remains one of the unsung heroines of the performing arts world, despite her many years at the forefront of the world dance scene. No longer "the punk ballerina," Armitage continues to push boundaries and explore cloud formations, fractal geometry, and sound in her boundary-breaking works. Her pieces are by no means perfect, but the fact that she allows herself to take risks and fail means that her work will always be thought-provoking.
"I'm so proud of dance. We really do offer an alternative: it's another way of thinking, and something you don't often see on TV," Armitage said in a previous interview with HuffPost Arts&Culture.
We're at a difficult stage in our cultural history, which is why it's important to highlight the moments that shatter our complacency. As strange as it seems, it is still a tiny bit shocking to see men partnered with men and women partnered with women in live productions even today. In "Mechanics," we see all forms of couples combining, contorting their muscled, pliant bodies around the stage to the glitchy soundtrack courtesy of Gabriel Prokofiev, the grandson of famous pianist Sergei Prokofiev. The younger Prokofiev's "Concerto for Turntable and Orchestra," proves that classical/electro hybrids can and do work. This mashed up form allowed the dancers to explore their own hybrids, from the Swan Lake port de bras to vogue-like movements. Though it was a group piece, Armitage Gone! veteran Megumi Eda was the star, showing off her mastery of numerous forms throughout the hour-long piece.
After the performance, Armitage sat down with seasoned dancers and choreographers Stephen Petronio and Elisa Monte in order to have a frank discussion about sustaining a career in one of the most difficult professions imaginable. Monte started out by relaying a story about how the NEA denied Martha Graham funding for a project even when she was in her 80s. At the end of the tale, she sighed. "It's never easy."
True. But this trio shows us that it's important to keep fighting the good fight.