Often times, I’m positive I’ve stunted my imagination. Cases in point:
The number of non-black work shoes that I own: Three
Did I rename my cat post-SPCA adoption? Nope
Years it took me to accept brown as a full-fledged color and not just what dirt looks like: 28
Thankfully, Eric Kupers and his local company Dandelion Dancetheater infuse out-of-the-blue originality where I would only contribute a dependable yet deplorable snoozefest. A while back, Kupers caused watercooler tittering with “The Undressed Project,” a series of dances performed by Dandelion Dancetheater’s wide ranging dancers of all shapes, sizes, and abilities. Oh, and the costuming included nada. That’s right. Modern dance and dance theater in the buff. It proved to be quite the first-date night outing.
This weekend, Dandelion Dancetheater brings something slightly different (and mostly clothed) to ODC‘s stage: the first two chapters of “MUTT,” a dance-play that follows a mixed-race girl, Miyo, born in an internment camp during World War II. The not-your-average-everyday-or-even-soap-opera-like tale takes place during the 49 days after Miyo’s death in her “bardo,” a liminal state that is believed by many Buddhist cultures to be what is experienced in-between death and the next life. It’s a “strange, after-hours honky-tonk inhabited by a motley crew of spirits, an undead country band, and various characters from her life.” This odd reality allows Kupers and co-director Kimiko Guthrie to wrestle with issues and ghosts from Miyo’s last identity as she faces terrifying questions about future identities.
With me so far? “MUTT” is bilingual, moving back and forth between English and Japanese, but you don’t need to speak a second language to delve into the work. Dandelion Dancetheater, through dance, song, and text, explores mixed-identity and whatever falls in-between through language, sound, images, and the body. Premiering at New York City’s Joyce SoHo in July, “The New York Times” said that “‘MUTT’ is “mad and maddening, a wild whirl of song, text, visual design and movement whose anarchic energies sometimes seem shot straight out of Dada.”
But what is Dandelion Dancetheater? Recently, Kupers said, “…[T]he company is more ‘dance theater,’ we all have come out of the dance world trained in modern dance, performing modern dance, but we’re all drawn into the other arts more and more as the time goes on. Really we’re avant-garde musical theater… We like for our work to be very open for many different ways of entering it, so our goal isn’t necessarily to ‘get’ a story out of the whole thing. We’re telling many stories, really, but someone might relate to it musically or visually and someone else might have a completely different story than we have. It definitely is a type of narration, although it’s nonlinear. It’s surreal.”
What: Dandelion Dancetheater Bay Area Premiere of MUTT Chapters One and Two
When: Friday and Saturday, September 18 and 19 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, September 20 at 7 p.m.
Where: ODC Dance Commons, 351 Shotwell Street, San Francisco, 94110
Tickets: $18 General/ $15 Seniors/Students. ODC Theater Box Office Phone: 415.863.9834 or online
Please be aware that this performance contains some nudity.