Last night at Christ Church Neighborhood House, Hybridge Arts Collective brought it to me live with ID:3, an evening of three performance works by the co-directors of said collective. I was going in blind and in good faith, because I love Hybridge Arts’ mission. All I knew was that would be a triple bill of . . . something.
If you look at the collective’s website, like a good patron of the arts, you will find that “this triple bill of original dance and theater explores the complexity of personal and social identity in modern society.” I did not look at the website beforehand, but turns out I picked up on similar themes: interpersonal relationships, social codes, and the awkwardness therein.
Here is the skinny.
SBF- SINGLE BLACK FEMALE. A single black female in a single black chair in a single square of light. Trick. We find out that she is not so single. Then we are taken on the best emotional roller coaster of our lives via youtube videos. A mantra, “rate, comment, subscribe,” fills our minds as we grip the edges of our seats in this exciting meta-narrative. Who is “W” and why did it go horribly wrong?
Then it happens. The Race card. Boom. I was happy to see the evening start with a female minority artist. The youtube video realness, the voice-overs, really made it “real.” But if we are keeping it real: the content of the piece is about racism, but the audience is primarily white. This reviewer is a person of color, and I wonder if the piece is more relevant to me than my fairer-skinned audiencemates?
BEAST. Three lovely girls in three lovely dresses and . . . oh wait a weird guy? BEAST is a trio and a solo, or three duets, or an ensemble dance piece that takes you through the pettiness and competition that comes with the traditions of dating and other social absurdities. The dancers are all technically skilled. We are taken through several seemingly narrative vignettes, only to realize it was all about . . . that weird guy.
This piece is packed with a lot of content: music, dancing, speaking, clapping, paintings, yelling and polite conversation. In short there are a lot of ingredients, and I ended up feeling overstimulated and confused. This piece would be appropriate for someone with a short attention span as it bobs and weaves through various genres of performance art.
It does beg the question: does dance + theater always = dance-theater?
THE TRAVELERS. Audience and performer alike are all in the same echoey waiting room waiting for a train. We are all transient and filled with regret. Just as soon as you feel the collective travelers’ frustration we are confronted with the female gaze. We must digest her body as she does. Then this ensemble piece takes you through a whirlwind of emotion using pedestrian movements, hurling glasses of water, and some sweet dance moves reminiscent of the 80’s. Be sure to keep your eye on Adam Kerbel, as there are some leaps in there you don’t want to miss.
The well recorded audio really brings the audience into the universe of the piece. This piece is energetic with range of movement. The blend of light contact, movement in unison and pedestrian movement left me feeling satisfied as if i had just eaten a well balanced meal. I couldn’t tell you what happened, or if that guy ever made that train.
In short, go see for yourself! You may come out feeling slightly more confused than when you went in.