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Identity in Flux—December’s 12 Minutes Max

Written by Victoria Jacobs

(Photo: Josephine’s Echopraxia © Tim Summers)

12 Minutes Max, as always, presented a delightful smorgasbord of performers one would normally never find on the same stage, to an audience who might never have the chance to see them all. The curators, puppeteer Kyle Loven and $12 for 12 Minutes Max guest curator Alyson McCrink, chose works that were snippets or nascent ideas of larger works, and they had a running theme of identity in transition.

Marissa Rae Niederhauser (Josephine’s Echopraxia) opened the show with Cut Your Losses, a solo dance about being in the midst of transformation. She appeared in flowing pants and a loose green sweater that transformed with her flailing and spinning into an old skin, a cocoon, or a pair of new wings. Niederhauser’s recorded voice droned about having left one state without knowing what one is about to become, as she repeated movements, some of them recognizable dance steps, some of them self-mortifying, and then left the stage. When she returned, the monotonous spoken word transitioned into emotionally held electronic music by Of Montreal, and she began spinning, pulling her head in and out of her sweater in various states of revelation. Her openness and simplicity supported the theme of mid-transformation, like a held breath.

In their debut performance, 3rd Shift Dance’s Xaviera Vandermay presented six dancers in Hospital Gown Get Down, a highly physical piece that moved from tortured lamentation in a hospital through a heavy, grieving solo about battling death, and into a sweaty finale about coming back to life as a jungle cat. It was a joy to see women of different ethnicities and body types dancing their hearts out together. The dancers threw themselves passionately into the movement, though they could have been softer going in and out of the floor. The juxtaposition of subject matter was confusing—was this a dance about death and grief, or about prowling and being sexy? One can only guess that as a new company, these dancers wanted to show everything all at once. With more focus, more stillness, and greater attention to weight, it will be interesting to see what they develop in the future. 3rd Shift Dance performs at the Wham! Bam! Holiday Slam! at Velocity on December 18, 2011. 

Most surprising was Warrior Muzik and Kagaka Lua—conscious hip-hop fused with a Pacific Islander traditional dance. Brian San Nicolas came up from Olympia with a crew of five performers to back him up as he rapped about elevating consciousness through and despite the difficulties of urban life and race relations. The ensemble began in urban clothing and shoes, with incongruous flowered wraps around their waists. As San Nicolas spat striking lyrics with incredible diction and passion, the other performers stepped side to side, sang the chorus, rapped a verse of their own, or wandered around the stage. Later in the piece, they returned in only the wraps, hair down to their shoulders and beads around their neck, and performed a powerful dance of stomping, slapping their bodies and chanting in unison. With similarities to the Haka, a New Zealand warrior dance, it was stunning, and it gained even more power juxtaposed with the electronic beats and San Nicolas’s adept lyrics about trying to live in the light within urban hardship.

Jack Bentz’s solo theater performance Full Measure, about the acceptance of homosexuality in the Catholic Church or the tragedy that results of its ignorance, was the standout of the evening. The staging was masterful, his presence and diction impeccable. His message was simple and beautifully illustrated through great writing, a few props, and excellent acting.

Musician and performer Erin Jorgensen presented a short excerpt entitled Prayer for Losers from her evening length work Redemptionto be presented at OtB January 26–28, 2012.  She detailed a Craig’s List ad that she posted seeking all the traits you would least like to find in someone cruising Craig’s List and sang a winsome prayer (Please Lord, help me get my shit together.) before walking out the exit and leaving the audience to stare at the lonely microphone.

For more information on some of these artists, visit: