SEE CHICAGO DANCE Web Review May 24 2010 by Chicago Tribune Dance Critic, Sid Smith
RTG Dance A Wild Patience Has Taken Me This Far
Turns out that the RTG Dance performance over the weekend at the Drucker Center will be the troupe's last for a while - artistic head Rachel Thorne Germond will be moving to Virginia for the next two years, joining her partner, who's earned a fellowship. Good for them, bad for us. The modest, threadbare presentation over the weekend, dubbed "A Wild Patience Has Taken Me This Far," ably demonstrated Germond's inimitable talents and appeal. She is a stern, unfancy, intellectually enticing artist, tough in her aesthetic, though in a more muted way than, say, Atalee Judy or Jonathan Meyer.
"Dance theater" is a buzz phrase of the past couple of decades, but, at Sunday’s performance, I kept thinking instead of "dance drama," in that Germond works in a purely abstract realm and yet mines subtle conflicts and animosities inherent in movement and ensemble configuration. She doesn't tell stories, but she explores battles, alliances, break-ups and betrayals, rarely relying on the traditional beauties of flowing contemporary dance. Who her dancers are touching at any given moment and why are questions that keep recurring, just as the ever-changing patterns concern human will, control, isolation and even doom much more than aesthetic confection.
One compliment a writer can pay her: While the viewer remains most of the time compelled, wondering what’s next, her work is very difficult to put into words. The four dancers in "A Wild Patience," the only ensemble piece on last weekend's fare, constantly change poses, arrangements and affinities.
They begin in two separate pairs. Johannah Wininsky stands beside Celia Weiss Bambara and repeatedly thwarts her ill-fated efforts to move forward. At the other side of the stage, Becky O'Connell watches ominously as Christopher Knowlton threatens to crash himself into the brick wall. Escape, whether real or suicidal, is only ineffectually restrained. Much later, Germond crafts a nifty sequence in which, one by one, each of the foursome gets isolated, one at a time, so that formations of three vs. one keep forming and changing in make-up and each, in his or her turn, is outsider.
That's the type of imagistic drama that inhabits "Patience," which quickly melds from set-up to set-up, from mini-drama to mini-drama, with relentless propulsion. Rarely do these dancers indulge in smooth, sweeping dance, though, when they do, it's a relief akin to an oasis in a desert.
It's not an overstatement to label Germond uncompromising. Her quartet in "Patience" is a motley crew, by no means an assortment of gorgeous or dainty creatures.
In one of two solos on this same program, "Framed," Germond employs her own solid, earthy looks for a kind of "No Exit"-like tone poem involving a woman both partnering with and maybe trapped by an empty picture frame. Here, Germond never utilizes one of her own most appealing aspects, her vulnerable, inviting mien and facial warmth. Instead, her face remains rigid, even defiant, and "Framed," one component of what's intended to be a full-length piece in the future, is austere, vogue-like in its striking poses. She reclines along a diagonal line with the frame at one point, at another she poses with her hand on one hip, executing a brief series of plies.
Modest, like much of her work, evolving quickly, changing every moment, it was rarely less than intriguing. Our arts scene needs more, not less, like Germond. So, we implore her, hurry back. Meanwhile, God speed.
Reviewed by Sid Smith on 05/24/2010 at 10:30AM