Base: Experimental Arts + Space provided an intimate studio performance space for Out of Nowhere, a night of collaboration between many artists. The evening featured three 20-minute works by Seattle-based performance maker Petra Zanki, guest collaborators Liane Burns and Charles Slender-White of San Francisco’s FACT/SF, and one piece by the night’s coordinator, Dylan Ward. A captivating mix of theatre and dance created an eclectic, touching, and fierce evening of performances.
The evening started abruptly and surprisingly, as Dylan Ward entered the space with house lights still on and urgently set up a chair, two IVs hanging from the ceiling, a glass of milk, and a loaf of bread. After arranging the performance space, Ward paused, relaxed, and began a conversational monologue. The piece, No One Will Ever Love You More Than You Are Capable of Handling, by Petra Zanki, at first focused on different substances- the smoothness of milk flowing through the hanging IV, airy puffs of smoke exhaled through Ward’s e-cigarette, and tiny white pills methodically stacked on top of each other. The focus shifted as Ward becan to tell stories. Full of charming absurdity, Ward described how he used to teach preschoolers to dance, using audience members to demonstrate a toddler’s bear-crawl. Another segment contained pacing, posing, and lurking, as Ward demonstrated another job as an escort. After executing a quick, gestural accumulation accompanied by a video in which he listed every medication he and his family members had ever taken, Ward ended with a dance of tenderness, ease, and attention to detail. Oscillating between dance and theatre, Zanki’s piece did not have a continual narrative, but rather touched on pleasure, money, escapism, and nostalgia in small vignettes of speech and movement.
Platform v. 4, performed and choreographed by Liane Burns and Charles Slender-White, stood apart from the other two pieces because of the performers’ dynamic and lush physicality. The two dancers spiraled around each other, rust colored tunics flowing behind them. Completely synchronized, driven by weight and the twisting of their torsos, they fell into seamless floor work and rose up again with ease. The beauty of human form emerged in the dancers’ rare moments of stillness and their dancing almost embodied the divine through expansive, direct, and driving movement. Although the choreographic structure was simple, the dancers’ fiery physicality created an intensity that filled the whole room.
The Lesser Evils, choreographed by Dylan ward, and performed by members of his performance entity, Sleep Nod, was perplexing and ironic. Like Zanki’s piece, this too was a mix of video projection, speech, and movement. The elements were haphazardly combined, resulting in a tumultuous, ridiculous, and even dystopian performance. Video of Amy Johnson Lambert mixing a rock into a glass of water transitioned into a quintet stumbling onstage, perhaps drunk or high, into maniacal laughing accompanied by grounded movement phrases and partnering. Abstract movement vocabulary contrasted with the group’s cartoonish cackling, which also contrasted with the projections of starry skies on the wall behind the dancers. At one point Karl Watson left the stage to make a smoothie, forcing the audience and his fellow performers to wait while he finished drinking it, while the rest of the cast made light conversation with audience members. Using scattered elements and a plethora of bizarre moments, The Lesser Evils touched on the absurdity of performance and created an environment of surprising and dysfunctional relationships.
As a collaborative evening between Sleep Nod and FACT/ SF, Out of Nowhere pulled together dance, theatre, and performance art in an intimate setting. There was little continuity between each piece, but it was not needed. Rather, the excitement of the night was in seeing the different types of daring presented on stage. Zanki’s piece felt unapologetically intimate without being artificial or uncomfortable- a difficult balance to strike. Ward took different risks, defying all boundaries of genre and presenting a chaotic collage of ideas. Platform v. 4 felt daring through the expansive physicality so clearly influenced by Countertechnique. Pushing through genres and finding the extremes of movement, Out of Nowhere provided a space for risk taking and bold choices.