Not your typical dance performance.
Thursday, November 2, 2000
Sunset Center''s Performance Carmel series has a long history of bringing nationally acclaimed dance, music and performance theater to the Peninsula, and this Saturday, PerksDanceMusicTheatre will continue the tradition. Founded in 1995 by Rebecca Stenn, who danced with both Pilobolus and MOMIX before starting her own company with Juilliard classmate/ friend and musician Nico Abondolo, PerksDanceMusicTheatre is exactly what its title attests: A combination of all three mediums that results in a performance heavily stressing strong visual imagery.
The influence of her years with both Pilobolus and MOMIX is strong in Stenn''s work; both companies focus on the illusion and athleticism that can be reached with the human body, and both use stage design to help attain the very visual results. The difference between these two longer-established companies--both founded in part (Pilobolus) or in whole (MOMIX) by Moses Pendleton--and the relatively new Perks is in the music, which in the latter''s case is always live.
Ranging "from funk/rock to world/ethnic to classical," the music is highlighted as an equal contributor in the collaboration of the Perks by having the musicians on stage with the dancers. This not only creates a strong relationship between the music and dance but also helps to ensure that the performance remains at the opposite end of the spectrum from a dance spectator''s worst possible scenario--the feeling of watching puppets on stage moving to canned music they have absolutely no connection to. The musicians, just like the dancers, have had an ever-changing roster since the company''s inception but this factor seems to have only enhanced the variety and possibility of the Perks'' work. For Saturday''s show, the company will be made up of three musicians--David Eggar, cello/keyboards; Tom Papadatos, drums; Jay Weissman, bass; and three dancers--Rebecca Stenn, Michele de la Reza and Peter Kope.
Stenn, who choreographs all of the works, has never been limited in scope; her resume includes an underwater dance film, an appearance in the IMAX film Imagine with MOMIX, and her founding of and current involvement with Pilobolus Too, a duet company that made an appearance at Sunset Center two years ago. This variety and flexibility seem to have carried over to the repertoire of the Perks, whose past works include a piece in which Stenn dances to the rhythm of her own amplified heartbeat, as well as one in which she attains the illusion of weightlessness with the use of a see-saw, a har- ness, spotlights and black velvet. Definitely not your typical dance performance.
As Stenn herself has said, PerksDanceMusicTheatre is "a complete theatrical experience, not just curtain up, dance, curtain down, clap." From the lighting in the theater to the music played before the performance, every aspect of a Perks presentation is considered. The company not only breaks conventional dance barriers with its exploration of physical and athletic potential, but also maintains a levity in its presentation that can be sorely lacking in much of modern dance. Saturday night''s performance should appeal to everyone, even children, by creating the sense of a "spectacle," rather than that dreaded puppet show.
PerksDanceMusicTheatre, Sunset Center, Carmel, Saturday, Nov. 4, 8pm. Tickets are $15-$19; for information and purchase call 624-3996.