Movement at the Mills

Last week I went to see The PGK Project dance company perform at the ‘Movement at the Mills’ dance series in the BCA’s art gallery in the south end. It was a free performance!! In other words I was already on board. offering free dance theatre experiences to the public? Making dance accessible to the general public and not just those who can afford tickets? Sold. Although, on second thought, most people who are frequenting the South End could probably afford tickets anyway…but oh well. I walked in to a starkly white space with some minimalist art on the walls and dance Marley on the floor in specifically designated performance areas squared off with tape. I sat down and was amused by the fun, campy, “turn off your cell phones, enjoy the show” dance Introduction piece. I was excited to see my dance teacher in the show. The company incorporates local dancers from wherever they go into their shows, which I think is pretty cool, because, as the artistic director of the company said after the show, “We are all, as dancers, part of one dance family, regardless of stlye” I’m paraphrasing, but something along those lines.

Throughout the show, movement popped up everywhere, there were many different playing spaces all over the gallery. At first I was frustrated because I couldn’t see all of the dances as people would move around the space to see better and then block my/everyone’s view. But then I realized, ok, they had to have realized that this would happen, this is a purposeful part of the experience. After I let go of feeling like I had to see every movement I was able to enjoy the performance much more. The dancer’s limbs that I could see became their own piece, for example, for one piece I could only see the performers hand for almost the whole time. It became an interesting study of hand isolations for me, the hand taking on its own character and story. I also started watching the audience watch the dances. usually I could see the audience better than the dancers, and their unison head movements as they watched the dance and nuanced reactions became their own, fascinating, could have been choreographed but probably wouldn’t have been as great if it were, piece. I also was acutely aware of when a dancer was pursuing actions with their movement, versus just moving because the choreography tells them to. Some dancers had intentions and energy behind their movements while others did not. I found the ones who did have intention much more interesting to watch. in Physical acting we talk about how the difference between a physical action and a movement is intention. I saw how true this was in the PKG piece. I also felt that they were exploring themes of gender performativity. They paired people very creatively and specifically not adhering to hetero-normative/patriarchal gender roles. I was very moved by the show, the creative staging made me alert, I didn’t know where the next dance was going to pop up around me. I left the theatre feeling that a dance could occur anywhere at any time on the street surrounding me. And metaphorically, I began to notice many small behavioral dances of the pedestrians I passed. I enjoyed the piece immensely and it was interesting for me when i heard that some people involved had not enjoyed the process and found it devoid of meaning. Apparently they had not gotten along with the artistic director very well. This just reminds me of how audience perception can be positive even if the process sometimes felt negative. Also of how easy it is to get wrapped up in negative working relationships and forget the larger whole where positive things can happen!