Joe Goode Travels Light
July 31, 2009
It must be an interesting experience for the dancers in the Joe Goode Company to go from performing in the narrow, dark confines of the Ann Hamilton Tower in Sonoma (where I last experienced a site specific work, fall within, by the company earlier this summer) to the airy, open spaces of The Historic Mint building in San Francisco. Everything in fall within was tightly wound and internalized. There wasn't much room for the dancers to move, so kinetic economy was the mainstay of the piece.
Economy plays a major role in this new work. Not only does the work take place in the beautiful, faded edifice that was once the city's mint. But the work's themes are very much tied into ideas of money -- what it's like to have too much or too little; what's really essential in life, versus what's a luxury; what the current economic climate is doing to our minds and hearts versus what similar circumstances did to our forebears in the Great Depression.
One of the great strengths of Traveling Light is the contrast between the use of space and light. Audiences move from space to space throughout the hour-long work. Each room we visit is large and airy. One space in which the dancers perform is a courtyard open to the heavens. On one occasion, a company member performs a song and standing way up high in a balcony. We have to crane our necks to see her. But the no-hold-barred freedom of the venue's layout is sharply balanced against designer Jack Carpenter's use of light. An enormous follow-spot practically crushes a dancer as she moves under it in one scene, making her look like an insect under a microscope. Long shafts of yellow light carve out and confine space within the otherwise vast-seeming courtyard. Dancers twist and stand in the shadows and corners of a space as much as they spread out into the light.
The power of Goode's piece lies in this contrast. The push and pull of economics, the lightness of feeling unfettered by possessions versus the necessity of having a roof over one's head, the constant balancing act of life -- the choreographer deftly weaves all of these ideas into his latest work.
Traveling Light plays at the Mint until August 9. And on another note, the Historic Mint is currently being renovated for eventual use by the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society. Follow this link to find out more about The Mint Project.