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12 Minute Max Crashes, Snaps, and Twitches into a Successful Evening

Written by Jacqueline Brock
Kaitlin McCarthy’s That Awful Sound. Photo by Stephanie Gardner.
12 Minute Max delivered a mix of rhythmically engaging dance works, endearing songs, and clever theatrical pieces this past weekend at On The Boards. The evening was curated by Allie Hankins with the assistance of Aaron Grady-Brown, winner of the $12 for 12 Minute Max. The dance pieces in the latest installment of 12MM had a tangible energy, whether their idea centered around a relationship, a specific character, or a purely physical obstacle, the pieces kicked, lurched, fell, and spun to make a night of impressive, incredibly engaging works.

The first dance piece in the program, That Awful Sound, choreographed by Kaitlin McCarthy, presented two dancers who sprang, pulled, twisted, and snapped at each other. The relationship dynamic of the duet teetered between friend and foe. One performer had an air of disinterest in the other, willing to play but not to share, leaving the other to cry out for attention and participation. The detailed, infused phrase work was manipulated and repeated, and evolved throughout the piece juxtaposing more theatrical gestures with large sweeping movements, pulling the audience’s attention in and keeping them there for the duration.

LADY, choreographed and performed by Shellie Gravitt, the piece began with the absence of the dancer. The space was charged with music blaring and lights on full in red and pink hues. A “lady,” clothed in fish nets, high heels, and black undies violently crashed onto the stage, colliding with the floor. Gravitt found her way to standing atop the ridiculously high heels, and transitioned to an exaggerated walk, jutting her legs ahead of her torso, pelvis tucked, and arms pulled back. After a few repetitions of this sequence, Gravitt removed the tights and heels and added a mixed drink to her hand. This character, a less extreme version of the crashing, lurching one in the first half, justified each action more narratively, allowing the audience to follow and engage with the silent storyline. Overall, Gravitt blended the narrative exploration of a character with the movements of an experienced dancer seamlessly.

In Spun Off, choreographed and performed by Triadic Dance Works, one dancer stood tall holding a flashlight that illuminated two dancers laying prone on their backs. The music started and the two jerked and contracted into motion, repeating a sequence of starts and stops until the stage lighting slowly replaced the need for the flashlight. The newly upright duo began a phrase staying physically close but independent and unaltered by the other’s staccato, bound movement. The dance continued in a similar stop-motion flow of ideas. The piece shifted between duets, trios, and solos not quite reaching a culmination of theme or thoughts, but nevertheless engaging the audience with a movement vocabulary and style rhythmically pleasing and captivating.

Geoffrey Johnson’s Vantage Point, never stopped moving once it got started, flowing though a constant evolution and manipulation of sequences. The dancers chased after each other on the diagonal, one jutting out just past the last to slice, contract, spin, land, and reach out with a twitching hand. Not only did this piece exude rhythm, structure, form, and spatial awareness, the dancers executed each intricate movement with impressive strength, energy, and breath. The dance circled back to the beginning diagonal in controlled hyper speed until all bodies collapsed to the floor in a flash of light right before blackout. A perfect way to end a perfect evening.

The next and final installment of this season’s 12MM can be seen at On the Boards April 8 and 9, 2012.