Dance as a Political Weapon in DIDA Season Opener Uncle Sam Wants You! | Theater | Indy Week
Pin It

Dance as a Political Weapon in DIDA Season Opener Uncle Sam Wants You! 

Killian Manning/No Forwarding Address

Photo courtesy of Killian Manning

Killian Manning/No Forwarding Address

Choreographers have long used dance as a vehicle for social commentary and protest. As Maguy Marin once put it, dance is "a weapon that disarms. A weapon that does not kill."

Killian Manning's Uncle Sam Wants You!, which opened DIDA's fourth season last week, brandished that weapon with vigor at times. In an opening section set to cellist Jami Sieber's haunting "Prayer 1," dyads from Manning's ensemble, No Forwarding Address, took down strips of white cheesecloth suspended at midstage. As Jehanne Dubrow's disturbing poem "Syllabus for the Dark Ahead" played, they folded the strips until they ominously took on the triangular form of American flags at military funerals. Six performers silently held them out to us before Geraud Staton placed his on the floor, turned a crisp ninety degrees, and slowly walked off, stage right.

Other affecting moments were similarly theatrical. As J Evarts and Jonathan Leinbach reenacted grand jury testimony from the trial of Ethel Rosenberg, Manning's troupe repeatedly shifted in its circle of chairs, their postures indicating boredom, intense interest, or contempt. In another section, more strips of fabric were fashioned into gags, handcuffs, barricades, and nooses.

But, in dance as in Washington, D.C., everything comes down to the optics, which slipped here—more than once. Glimpses of advanced technique were the exceptions in a work that didn't appear to push far beyond dancers' comfort zones. The smiling performers and lovely legato spirals and arcs didn't reflect the gritty characters and situations of Lou Reed's "Dirty Blvd." A later sequence set to Simon and Garfunkel's "America" depicted the youthful exuberance of its opening lyrics, not the disaffection that follows. A Rockettes-style kick line burlesqued easy jingoism to "The Stars and Stripes Forever," but the lyrical imagery preceding George Michael's "Hand to Mouth" left the lyrics more critical than the dance accompanying them.

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Theater



Twitter Activity

Comments

This looks wonderful! I cant wait until it goes on the road so we can see it in California!

by Michelle Nogales on Pioneering African-American Sci-Fi Author Octavia Butler’s Empathy and Foresight Take the Stage in Parable of the Sower (Theater)

Spelling error for one of the owners of RRE: it's Rebekah Carmichael, not Rachel Carmichael. Also, the shows run between …

by J Robert Raines on Raleigh Room Escapes Slips Through the Keyhole Between Room-Escape Games and Immersive Theater (Theater)

Most Read

Most Recent Comments

This looks wonderful! I cant wait until it goes on the road so we can see it in California!

by Michelle Nogales on Pioneering African-American Sci-Fi Author Octavia Butler’s Empathy and Foresight Take the Stage in Parable of the Sower (Theater)

Spelling error for one of the owners of RRE: it's Rebekah Carmichael, not Rachel Carmichael. Also, the shows run between …

by J Robert Raines on Raleigh Room Escapes Slips Through the Keyhole Between Room-Escape Games and Immersive Theater (Theater)

your 20 sept review of playmakers current offering missed the boat, big time. the play portrayed all the characters as …

by Pointyhead on The Cake Edits Reality to Ignore the Everyday Consequences of Bible Belt Homophobia (Theater)

Oh, I'd be amused even without the in-jokes. These folks are having a great time, and the setting is transportive. …

by needsomeokra on Wants Upon a Time Is a Commedia Dell'arte Interrogation of What Happily Ever After Really Means (Theater)

The photo credit is incorrect. The photo was taken and edited by Areon Mobasher for Burning Coal Theatre Company. Please …

by Areon Mobasher on The Greeks Streamlines Sophocles’s Theban Trilogy Into Three Nimble, Strikingly Modern One-Acts (Theater)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation