Photon Factory housed WHYTEBERG and Dance Undercurrent’s Pop Up Show the last weekend in June. Inside this small, well-aged Georgetown building a party bubbled with drinks from local breweries and from the get-go there was a freedom to roam, encouraging the co-mingling of performer and observer. Performances by local Seattle artists, WHYTEBERG, Cherdonna’s DONNA, and the participants of WHYTEBERG and Dance Undercurrent’s Deep Dive Workshop, which occurred the week prior to the show, casually popped up in space throughout the evening. Each performance was placed in a unique part of the Factory so it wasn’t uncommon to have to rely on where others were looking to spot who was dancing next and where. The Pop Up Show was an exciting opportunity to “party” with the performers and empower the audience to observe a finely honed dance language in a casual environment.
The Pop Up Show was a culmination and showcase of a week of workshops with the two West Coast groups. Hilary Grumman, Ashley Jade Pietro, and Liv Fauver are Seattle’s Dance Undercurrent, while Laura Berg and Gracie Whyte make up LA’s WHYTEBERG. The two groups specialize in floorwork and demand a high-level of athleticism in controlled, gravity-defying tricks. This technique was prominent in the groups’ showings: Whyte and Berg each performed solos curiously exploring how to get in and out of the floor. Engaging with the audience was another theme. Berg asked an audience member to hold a balloon she then popped with a safety pin and Whyte moved into her solo slowly while her audiences’ backs were turned. The participants of the workshop slithered into fluid duets with one another and twirled into and out of the floor with ease.
Shane Donohue captivated the entire space with an exuberant solo that began at the top of a set of stairs to Alanis Morissette’s, “All I Really Want.” The opening lyrics Do I stress you out paired with Donohue’s calm demeanor on a precarious ledge did, in fact, stress us out. He leaned forward and fell, disappearing behind Photon Factory’s tall white ledges, only to reappear and continue this flailing, falling, and comically terrifying movement.
Jordan MacIntosh-Hougham also captivated the entire room in a talking tour of Photon Factory dressed in a yellow wig. “Come closer,” they would say, but after wrangling in the majority of folks they’d shy away from the crowd mumbling, “woah, you all are too close.” The performances rounded out nicely with Cherdonna Shinatra and her company, DONNA. Dressed in brightly colored, short hoop dresses with full wigs and makeup, the cast of DONNA definitely stood out from the beginning of the evening. Each one of the DONNA performers mingled with party goers, watching other performances, but when they hit the stage it was as if they were saying, And now it’s my turn to wow you, which they absolutely did. High kicks, lip-syncing, and some booty shaking accompanied Aqua’s “Candyman.” Cherdonna lip-synced the deep voice singing, “I am the Candyman,” while DONNA lip-synced the feminine, “Woah woah woah woah.” Ending the set of performances with the fun, up-beat laughter from Cherdonna was the perfect way to invite everyone to dance and party for themselves.
A fun evening that broke the fourth wall, Pop Up Show was well curated, offering a diverse set of performances and perspectives. This was contemporary dance in its most contemporary form; it embraced our desire to be part of something. We were allowed to engage with these performances at the level we wanted to, which could include taking videos, posting on instagram, laughing, walking away, coming in late… It was a celebration of the audience, bridging the gap between party and performance experiences. – Liz Houlton
WHYTEBERG and Dance Undercurrent at Photon Factory June 29.