- Jeffrey Wells
“This feels like a really interesting experience,” says performer Jeffrey Wells during One with Others, "a really interesting, almost satisfying encounter,” he follows up. He’s referring to the performance itself; It’s partly sarcastic. It’s partly a challenge.
One with Others, a trio choreographed by Minneapolis-based Karen Sherman, is "meta" and self-aware in a way that made me consider a performance itself and its performers in a way that I have never before considered: It made me consider the act—both the labor and the delight—of creating a performance. It made me think about the connection between a dancer and her audience and receiving audience feedback as a dancer. It made me consider the career of a contemporary dancer. One of my favorite portions of the show is when Sherman is holding an overhead projector and scribbling Pros and Cons on an overlay; they read like the pros and cons of making dance. A few of them: Pros: Love; Great Conversation Topic; Anonymity. Cons: Don’t love; $; Hate talking about it; Anonymity; Too old.
Anyone trying to forge a life in the arts can sympathize.
In general, the show is sparse. The three performers wear muted colors: grey, cream, black. You can see the stage's lights, drawing attention to the artifice of theater. There’s a severity to this as well as in the way the performers gaze blankly or accusatorily into the audience at times. I wonder if the show would've benefited from some kind of softening, either in aesthetics or otherwise.
That being said, a favorite scene during the performance is a moving segment done by Wells, who clutches a black pillow and throws himself to the ground, aggressively and repeatedly, reciting different self-help mantras for a broken heart: “Get a dog. Write about how you are feeling. Imagine slashing their tires but don’t really do it. Do yoga.” The excessive onslaught of mantras is comical; it's also sad, because of the proliferation and obsession of them. My favorite scenes of the show are these stripped down scenes. They feel the most raw and vulnerable, and so the most affecting.
There’s one more show of One with Others, a Sunday matinee at 4:30pm. Catch it if you can.
As a sidenote: if you haven’t checked out PICA’s blog re: the TBA Festival, click here. They’ve been keeping a lovely one this year, with some great nontraditional reviews and documentation of the festival. As performances are wrapping up this weekend, it serves as a nice review.