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Artichoke Dance Company - Recession Dances, and so can you!

by Janine Silver
May 30, 2009
New York, NY

Featured Dance Company:

Artichoke Dance Company
Artichoke Dance Company (office)
121 Sterling Place, #2B
Brooklyn, NY 11217
www.artichokedance.org

The Artichoke Dance Company has toured both nationally and internationally. Over the course of their thirteen touring seasons in New York they have touched upon some interesting issues from space and perspective to fear and understanding. There work is at times interactive, but the main focus is always partnering.

Prior to the performance was a preview of what is to come from the company. Territory Case #1, a collaboration with Jose Jay B. Cruz conveyed boundaries and space, which were literally created with a simple roll of tape. The boundaries made by the tape were later broken. The piece was an interesting mix of emotion and society's laws, which seems very promising.

The main event focused on the recession through several different pieces combined with multimedia expressions. Throughout the performance, aspects of other dances from past recessions could be seen, whether that be a little hustle dance complete with an Afro and mustache or a three-person Lindy Hop, it never failed to entertain.

The company includes a lot of humor into their dancing. The costumes and jokes help keep the mood light despite the less than amusing subject. During one of the dances they begin to mention all the different jobs which are hiring right now, jobs which no matter how bad the recession gets there will always be a need for. After going through a rather long list, they mention how working in the fast food industry pays $7.25 an hour. The dancers then realize they don't even make $7.25 an hour and leave the stage to contemplate a career change.

Aspects of the Lindy were presented subtly with a Shorty George step or a little more obviously with a three-person Lindy Hop dance. A female dancer carries both men onto the floor and then the three of them get tangled up in a web of swing dancing. The menagerie of hands, arms and dancing legs takes a more ordered turn, into a traditional tandem Charleston… with a twist.

The Artichoke dance company seems to challenge everything from space to gender roles. I was particularly fond of the bubble wrap dance. Two people clad in only bubble wrap literally challenged each other, stepping on each others toes to the song La Bamba performed live on cello and violin.

Another great skit reminded me of something one might see on Saturday Night Live. In the skit a woman auditions to become the next recession dancer. The auditioner explains to her that weird sells, and that if people don't understand it, they think it's good. He also explains that a recession dance must be economical, no unnecessary movements. The auditioner demonstrates and yet contradicts all of his own advice. By the end the auditioner and dancer together discover what he calls, the perfect recession dance.

Between all the different dances are video clips of dancers and a slideshow of photos representing the hard economic times. One video is an interview of a salsa dancing couple. The couple speaks of dancing and how in the current economy everyone needs to cut down on unnecessary spending. However, for them, dance will be the last thing to go. It is that important to them.

By the end of the performance all the dancers come on stage and speak to the audience. They explain that they are out of time and money and need some new dance moves to complete their last dance. Different dances are suggested from the audience and the show wraps up complete with the handful of new moves and a few new dancers pulled from the audience to escape into the world of the dancers.

Recession Dances, and so can you! is funny and provocative. Not only does it confront the problems faced during an economic crises by deconstructing classical dances, but it is all done with humor and fun.

Artichoke Dance Company wants to bring dance to everyone; therefore, in addition to their touring performances, they also teach workshops and offer free programming in Brooklyn. Check out www.artichokedance.org for more information on their upcoming shows and programs.
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