First 12 Minutes Max: Some Hits, Some Misses

Written by Mariko Nagashima
12 Minutes Max at On the Boards has long been a forum for innovation, and the first program of the 2011–2012 season, held September 25 and 26, was no exception. While some of the theater works seemed stronger than their dance counterparts, curators Roger Benington (acclaimed theater writer, director, and designer) and Marissa Rae Niederhauser (artistic director of dance/performance/film project Josephine’s Echopraxia) compiled a balanced mix of dance, theater, and film.

First-time choreographer Eric E. Aguilar presented a brief duet on SERENDIP Dance Company. Titled Abnormalities of the Thorax: Duet of the Heart and Lungs, it featured two women (Brynne Flidais and Jenna Mitchell), who moved with a quiet potency, as if ready to spring into more energetic motion, though they never did. Filled with standard modern dance movements, this work-in-progress was not terribly remarkable, but may just need more time to develop fully. Several moments of surprising beauty—when legs jutted into a deep lunge from flowing rolls across the floor, or when the women were seated facing the back, their hands wrapping behind them with fingers spread and palms facing out—signal Aguilar’s choreographic potential.

Maya Soto’s performance of Ghost Bride/Little Pink Dress, both excerpts of the full-length, Collage Pink, were performed with her usual mix of coquettishness and in-your-face punch. Enshrouded in a massive, glittering pink train of tulle, Soto writhed, searching for a way out of her ultra-feminine cape. The music shifted to the pulsing beats of Madhumitha, as Soto, untangled and suddenly empowered, taunted the audience with lingering looks and her unique blend of hip-hop and contemporary dance. Though her style is engaging and quite captivating to watch, the work felt a bit redundant (it was performed several times in the past year). One hopes she will continue to expand upon her already solid concepts with new works this coming season.
The short dance film Parts Don’t Work depicted a girl gang of taunting go-go dancers with oversized mouths and a lonely wannabe. This was easily the most interesting dance piece of the evening. Created by KT Niehoff/Lingo Productions this entertaining film explored acceptance, loneliness, and ultimately finding one’s own place. The simple yet interesting dance sequences (atop park benches and across the bumper car rink) were framed perfectly by fantastic editing. Set in the defunct Fun Forest Amusement Park at the Seattle Center, the girl gang laughed raucously from the Ferris wheel, and the heroine whined in mournful gibberish to a plastic duck, all giving the film a bizarre but comedic touch.
Offering an entirely unique perspective was Katy DeRosier’s Pinhole Lullaby Kiosk Project, set up in the foyer. In this installation, viewers peered through a keyhole in a door structure and watched a solo by DeRosier, which played with a push of the doorknob. Here, the interest lay in experience of viewing, not necessarily what was actually being viewed. Since it could only be seen by one person at a time, it made the dance feel intimate, as if one was inadvertently spying on something not really meant to be witnessed.
The other pieces, of both physical and spoken theater were equally engaging. Luster and Stubble presented a work about a hilariously inept clown attempting to set up a banquet, and Andrea Holmes explored her grandmother’s most cherished memories resurfacing through a frightening haze of dementia. ilvs strauss also presented her wordless take on different parts of one’s identity through the re-enactment of a recurring dream. This diverse mixture of live art was a great way to start the 12 Minutes Max Season.