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Another Parade – Monica Bill Barnes (2009)

June 20, 2010

Monica’s dance begins with a single dancer and the music of Bach.

Suite No 4: IV. Sarabande – Johann Sebastian Bach

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She’s decked out in a conservative gray turtleneck sweater with simple knit pattern, a knee length black skirt, hair carefully tucked back from her face and a small shiny circular lapel. The dancing begins almost immediately to combine facial and bodily gestures to convey invisible scenarios. She goes from looking shy and brushing off compliments from someone in the distance to performing a simple time step tap dance. At one point she boxes with someone in slow motion, taking a few hits herself, before she raises her arms victorious only to continue dancing until checking her pulse with her imagined watch. The movement seems to embody the ever shifting thoughts of a person left to mull through their day in a cartoon-like fashion.

Get up (I feel like being a) Sex Machine – James Brown

The music ends and the spirit lifts with the shouts of James Brown. Two more dancers replace the first wearing similarly drab outfits. Like a couple secretaries taking their lunch break, the women begin to feel the music. They strike poses and gestures with the voice of James Brown recovering from their outbursts of movement in between. As if the voice of James Brown is bubbling up from inside these awkward conservative women, who in no way embody sex machines, they cannot control their dancing urges. The two remaining women join the first two and the gestures continue recalling many used from the previous section.

I’ll Never fall in Love – Burt Bacharach

Suite No 4: III. Courante – Johann Sebastian Bach

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As Bach begins again, the four women come to the front of the stage and continue their quartet of sexy gestures. Sometimes shaking their butts or pulling down the neck of their sweaters to reveal a naked shoulder all the while pausing and shaking their heads at each other for being just a little too ridiculous and out of place. There is a constant struggle between dancing how they want to and being concerned for convention.

It’s a New Day So Let a Man Come in – James Brown

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Polk Salad Annie – Tony Joe White

The lights come on and one of the woman walks out into the audience and up the stairs, she walks out into the lobby and in again down the other side. The women on stage laugh at her and gesture as if to say, “Oh, I see what you did there, that was really clever, I liked that.” The woman then sits on the steps and watches the dance along with the audience.

Walk A Mile In My Shoes – Joe South

After the four women have rejoined on stage the lights again come on and they once again head into the audience with the song “Walk A Mile In My Shoes” playing over head. They find one audience member each and take them back up to the stage with them. Each dancing with their new partner in their own awkward way, one holding her tall woman partner very close to her body, another so far apart to remind us of middle school dances, they have a conversation with the new presence on stage. They shake their hips at their partner and beckon them further and further up stage until they switch places and remove their lapels to put them on the new dancers. They step away from their new counterparts who are standing their just as awkwardly as the woman had just before and at once they shake their hips to the pleasing of the audience.

A Love Like Yours (Don’t Come Knockin’ Everyday) – Martha Reeves & The Vandellas

Vodpod videos no longer available.

After the audience members have returned to their seats, the women take to the stage, walk to the back where confetti has been resting through out the entire performance, grab a handful and fling it up and above themselves. They put their fists in the air as they had after winning the boxing match and as the bits of color sprinkle around them the curtain closes.

The dance relies heavily on the fine line between comedy and seriousness. Monica doesn’t believe that subjects created for humor are very funny and often she doesn’t know what parts of her dance people will find humorous until she performs and she is often surprised. Unlike many modern and post-modern predecessors, Another Parade does not demand that it be taken seriously. It does not derive authenticity from moving with honesty or through abstraction but rather by using irony to place a check on it’s possible lack of authenticity. When the dancers go from familiar modern movement to walking briskly and checking their pulses we are notified that the dancers are joking about dancing for fitness rather than art. We are not given direct clues as to when the dancers are trying to be taken seriously and when they are only joking and so we can shed our need to find meaning in the movement. I believe that Monica Bill Barnes company is trying to say that if you take yourself seriously and you are not self-aware you run the risk of being inauthentic. The use of irony portrays self-awareness and that although you are creating one image you are aware of its implications and contrasts. You reach a new level of authenticity and honesty that is easily contrived in our current culture.

Have you seen any other dances that include many gestures?

Did you find the dance funny and did you feel a connection to it?

Do you believe in the irony and authenticity argument?

Do you ever dance during your lunch breaks?

June 15th, 2010
Reynolds Industries Theater
American Dance Festival
Duke University, Durham, North Carolina

One Comment leave one →
  1. Monica Fan permalink
    July 16, 2010 5:27 pm

    8 short films made by Monica Bill Barnes and filmmaker Celia Rowlson-Hall are waiting for you at – they will exist only up until Aug 24th – enjoy.

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