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David Gordon's LIVE ARCHIVEOGRAPHY a Delightful trip down Memory Lane

by Joanna G. Harris
April 22, 2017
ODC Theater
3153 17th St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 863-9834
Joanna G. Harris Author, Beyond Isadora: Bay Area Dancing, 1916-1965. Regent Press, Berkeley, CA, 2009. Contributor to reviews on culturevulture.net
“Everything is new and used..” is a phrase director/choreographer/writer David Gordon uses to describe his fifty-year adventure to remember, refresh, recall and present his efforts "to mystify the relationship between an artist’s life and work.” LIVE ARCHIVEOGRAPHY April 20-22, at San Francisco's ODC Theater accomplishes that evoking memories familiar to audiences here and those who worked with him elsewhere including ODC founder and artistic director Brenda Way and founding member Kimi Okada.

Alyce Dissette, Producer, Archivist Patsy Gay, Production Stage Manager Ed Fitzgerald and Video Designer/Production Manager Nick Ryckert assisted Gordon and his team of dancers Karen Graham, Scott Cunningham and his wife the renowned Valda Setterfield. Together they present a constant collage of dance, spoken text and narration with retrospective video of previous dance works (simultaneously performed live). There are even bits of ‘shtick:” George Burns and Gracie Allen doing “Lambchop” from early TV, and family photos of duets with aunties. It is at once profound, nostalgic, witty and always a little nutty and delightful.

Gordon narrates throughout and the cast joins in with the script. A particularly moving set of events involves Gordon developing the piece “Chairs” as a vehicle for rehabilitating Valda Setterfield after she sustained serious injuries from an automobile accident. Setterfield, for many years a dancer with the Merce Cunningham Company, had to retrain to perform. As we watch the process on film, Karen Graham and Scott Cunningham perform “Chairs” live. Gordon, who is tuned to theater works, also did a zany “The Chairs," the Ionesco play and Pirandello’s “Six Characters” including a Puccini “Minuet,” which is performed on film and live as a finale.

Archiveography is on exhibit at the New York Public Library of the Performing Arts. It was performed there in March 2017. The work moves from ODC back to New York for performances at the Kitchen, June 1-3. For this old timer who attended the Judson Church Performances and those of the Grand Union, this event was a welcome trip through times past, thoroughly admired and deeply respected. For example, throughout the film “Duet for one Person” (in which dancer Keith Mitchell acts both parts and gives himself verbal cues), the dancer speaks and executes steps with formal ballet language. The formal and the bizarre are beautifully executed. Discipline, discovery and delight. Gordon has makes it all come alive.
Scott Cunningham and Karen Graham in David Gordon's 'Live Archiveography.'

Scott Cunningham and Karen Graham in David Gordon's "Live Archiveography."

Photo © & courtesy of Paula Court

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