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ticktock: no. 1—a review

ticktock No. 1
The Experiment: Deconstructed Circus Meets Post-Modern Dance

By Joshua Windsor

“No. 1” is the appropriately-named, first performance to come from the newly-formed dance/aerialist company, ticktock.

That’s a bit of a mouthful, but writing about what ticktock does is sure to bring about a plethora of hyphenated concatenations. Formed of three performers (Bridget Gunning, Elizabeth Rose and Jill Schaffner), ticktock blends the showmanship of aerial acrobatics with the emotive content of modern dance—or uses the emotive elements of dance to construct aerial routines—or adds the showmanship of acrobatics to the process of creating dance. I suppose it’s a little of each. 

This isn’t necessarily new ground. The Moses Pendleton creations for Pilobolus, MOMIX, and Aeros are infused with the use of traditional “circus arts” to inform modern dance. But ticktock is after something a little different—something a little more subtle.
Here, the emotional content of dance, as well as its structure and pacing, are employed to create aerial works that transcend the usual collection of feats and tricks. Are there drops, hangs and locks? Sure, but the pieces read more like death-defying feats of melancholy.

This is an ambitious undertaking for ticktock and the results are mixed. “No. 1” is formed of six pieces loosely woven together. Bridget Gunning’s first solo “Immutable/Tensile” has no distinct beginning and tapers off toward the end. Yet the two pieces performed solely on the floor, “What I’ll Show You” and “Stowaway,” blend seamlessly into one another. The highlights of the work were the two static trapeze performances. “Studio Morning,” a solo by Elizabeth Rose, combined many of the tropes you would expect from a trapeze act. The execution was remarkably different. Rose languidly hangs form the bar and slowly works her way into several poses. The meat of the piece lay not in the tricks performed, but rather in the pauses and the coy smiles that were projected out to the audience as she regarded their observation. The theme of cognizance was central to most of the performances. During the solos, the dancers took time to watch the audience and express their emotional reaction—which was often in the form of awkward self-awareness. In other moments the dancers sat and watched each other, scrutinizing each others movement and features. Still the work as a whole felt uneven and oscillated from refined moments of genius to cluttered incoherent sections. Luckily the moments when it worked prevailed and never ceased to hold my attention. I look forward to see what comes next from ticktock as their choreography becomes more mature and they find their voice.

Performance: Jan. 29th & 30th 8PM, Jan. 31st 7PM
Emerald City Aerialdrome
2702 6th Ave S
Seattle, WA 98134

Editor’s note: Here’s ticktock’s Facebook page. If you know of other ticktock-related urls, please include them in the comments section?  Also, I did find a video on YouTube of an Elizabeth Rose performance filmed at ACT Theatre in September 2009. Very cool. (The embedding has been disabled; please click on the link if you’d like to view the video.)