One of my roommates was away this weekend, so I was lucky enough to steal her ticket and see both performances of “Prophets of Funk,” from David Dorfman Dance. This was the third time I saw a version of the piece, the first being in January 2011 at APAP in New York. Here are some of my thoughts on two changes I noticed.
- David’s Role in the Work. During the lecture demonstration early last week, the company discussed the process of deciding David’s role in the piece. In January, if I recall correctly, David watched the piece on stage and also kicked off the piece with a dance and speech to the audience. Here at Bates, David interspersed his movement within the rest of the work, and did not address the audience via voice at the start of the show. I interpreted the solos as transitions between sections, as well as drawing parallels between David’s character and Raja’s character (as Sly Stone). I also imagined David as a representation of the vibe of living and experiencing the music in that time. While the individual company members seemed to portray individual reactions to issues and the music of the period, for me David was more of an overarching, summarizing character. This stood out especially in the new ending…..
- The New Ending. Both nights the piece closed with Raja and David returning to the diagonal of the beginning entrance, raising one arm in a peace sign while the stage faded to black. Raja claimed a wide-set, firm stance. David continued to jam, slowly quieting his movements–but keeping the beat in his torso until the fade out. I thought it was a poignant visual, alluding to the relationship between Sly Stone and his fans. Maybe even prophets to their followers, in a larger sense. Or I could be way off. That’s one of those fun things about abstracted art.
Lastly, I wanted to give a quick shout out to performer Whitney Tucker, who did the most graceful improvised duet with a moth that I’ve ever seen. During her moving solo speech, a moth descended from stage right, as if on cue after a pause in her monologue. Lit perfectly, she seized the moment so fast that the audience erupted in cheers at her quick (-est) wit.
A moth’s life span is only about one week. If he only knew the 15 minutes he just got.