I first saw the Janet Pants Dans Theeatre, an LA-based dance trio (Katie Eastburn, Lindsey Beamish, and Jane Paik), opening for spazcore band Pink & Brown at the Meow Meow. What initially struck me was that these three ladies had the balls to stage a modern dance performance in a rock club. But even more impressive was their actual choreography; it was better and more interesting than any dance performance I'd seen, incorporating sleek and freaky modern moves with skewed concepts that were sung, acted, interpreted, and stretched apart--some of it set to punk music. It was something I could relate to, and it was artistically inspiring.
That was their first show, Assemblage; this week, they perform a new program entitled black&blue (Thurs Oct 10 at Blackbird, Sun Oct 13 at Disjecta). Jane Paik founded Janet Pants three years ago.
How is it, putting this arty modern dance in a rock club context?
Well, I've always been involved with the music scene, and with dancing, I've always wanted to tour around and perform in rock venues, because I'm not very interested in modern dance audiences; that's just not my deal. But if we perform with bands, it's accessible, and can be an introduction to people who would not normally seek out dance.
Modern dance is often too highbrow.
Yeah, it's highbrow, it costs a lot, it just isn't their thing. What we do is very DIY, but still, when we put on the show, it's well trained. That's important to me; that a level of professionalism and ability isn't just for the highbrow people. That we can do this on our level and present a show that's not sloppy.
And you're pulling from underground art, which makes it more interesting.
It is a balance between being professional and sophisticated about it, and at the same time, being like, "Fuck that, that's why I'm not doing [highbrow art]." It's the same thing with all these violin and cello players these days who play in rock bands instead of an orchestra. That's what's so exciting right now; all these people who have these highbrow abilities, but that's not their world.
Yeah, the proliferation of kids who have highbrow abilities, like you said, but are so influenced by DIY and punk culture.
When I go take dance classes with the "museum crowd," there are great dancers and people who I get along with, but at the same time I can't relate to them, really. I feel lucky to have found people who are trained and are still into this whole thing. And if I didn't dance this way, I wouldn't dance publicly. But it doesn't have to be confined to the museum crowd. JULIANNE SHEPHERD