One of the great pleasures of the dance medium is the demand it creates for open space. Dance studios are beautiful things; vast, well-lit rooms stretching into the distance with nary an object to disrupt the hypnotic emptiness. The air in a dance space crackles with creative potential because there's nothing in it, and so anything is possible.
Performance Works' occasional dance improvisation event, Holy Goats has been tapping into dance space potential for going-on four years now. Tucked away near 70th and Foster, the venue is a welcoming, artistic oasis in a desert of porn video outlets and steaming blacktop. The converted church doesn't look like much on the outside, but inside lies the prototypical dance arena; a miniature barn-shaped sea of white space. It's like a big canvas for dancers to etch paintings of movement on, and--particularly during Holy Goats' early afternoon timeslot--it's thoroughly and cheerily lit by the rays of the sun.
Performance Works' artistic director, Linda Austin, lives at the venue, and it has the warm casualness of somebody's home. A kitchen lies in one corner, stocked with all the coffee and bagels you can eat, and the seats are a ragtag assortment of chairs and old church pews. The vibe is relaxed and accepting, and when the performers hit the floor they do whatever strikes their fancy. Sometimes they have live musical accompaniment; sometimes they don't. Sometimes they demonstrate works-in-progress; sometimes they just make it up as they go along. Sometimes spoken word enters the mix, though things never devolve into the far sketchier open mic format. Austin invites seasoned, talented artists to the event, and the focus is always on movement/musical experimentation, the level of quality always topnotch.
This month's Holy Goats features Lillian Gael, who likes to incorporate text in her movement pieces, the Irish step-influenced Sinead Kimbrell, and Dance Cartel veteran Sierra Woods. Come see them. You know you were going to blow five bucks at the coffee shop this fine Sunday anyway. Why not add two bucks and see some magic happen to boot? JUSTIN WESCOAT SANDERS III