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Todd Eckert & Nol Simonse's 'Shared Space 7' Weird and Wonderful

by Joanna G. Harris
June 6, 2014
Dance Mission Theater
3316 24th Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 826-4441
Joanna G. Harris
Author, Beyond Isadora: Bay Area Dancing, 1916-1965. Regent Press, Berkeley, CA, 2009. Contributor to reviews on culturevulture.net
Todd Eckert and Nol Simonse have worked together for some time. Both are Bay Area acknowledged choreographers and performers. Since these evenings are listed as "Shared Space 7," we can assume that Eckert and Simonse have presented together at least that many times. Both have enlisted a talented group of fellow performers, But, for this reviewer, Simonse's choreography is far the more intriguing.

The first of his two offerings was a trio, danced by the captivating Christy Funsch with James Graham and Simonse, whose opening solo set the curious, personal episodes in motion. He was on the floor, opening and closing hands and feet looking amphibian-like.

Funsch joined him and continued the ritual of opening and closing hands and feet when Graham entered, proceeding to swing a ball on a long rope. Funsch, having covered Simonse (almost to protect him) avoided contact with the threatened danger.

Simonse' second piece. "What's Important is Not Always," was in four sections, all seemingly unrelated, but clearly so, if imagination serves. The first involved a foursome in business suits employing many cliché gestures as seen on TV. Next a strange ritual echoing today's movies, calling out-of-this-world figures to a dance of death. (All performers wore grotesque white makeup with black lined features.) Hanna Rose was particularly effective as the "bride of death" (if that is what was intended.) Finally, Mia J. Chung, age 17, performed a elegant solo of simplicity and honesty; a beautiful gesture of renewal.

These works were wonderfully danced, in addition to Rose and Chung, by Stella Adelman, Victor Aguilar III, Elena Anuryeva, Chad Dawson, Dudley Flores, James Graham, Tyler Hoyt, Fractal Humphrey, Quency Kao, Emily Fredrickson, Jerry Lin, Olga Scherbakova, Katie Sells, Aaron Simonovich, Darius Sohei, Nicholas Steetenben, Juliann Witt, Atalya Stachel, and Simonse. Bravo all.

Of Eckert's two works, I preferred "Yaw," a trio danced by Chrstaldawn Bell, Norma Fong and Victor Talledos. Through a series of solos and small trios, "Yaw" showed the virtuoso skill of all three. Yet, in this, as in Eckert's other work of the program, "Previously Published," (from material made for earlier works), the drama got diffused as the work's solos and duets moved off into separate worlds. In "Previously Published," the main through line was the rejection of two women (albeit independently) by two men. This provided a poignant motif but one not powerfully realized. Eckert joined the other three in the performance of "Previously Published." He was a charming presenter, but not intriguing as is Simonse.

Various recorded music accompanied all the works. The lighting design in Dance Mission's makeshift space was by Harry Rubeck.

"Shared Space" brought many young dancers to the audience's attention. They all deserved high praise for their artistry.

Photo © & courtesy of Kegan Marling

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