I am sad to say that summer is almost over. I’m even sadder to say that last night was my first visit to Jacob’s Pillow’s Inside/Out program and that next week is the last week to see some amazing artists perform some very innovative dances, all of which take place under the canopy of woods and sky.
And did I mention that the shows are free and that you can bring your dinner, your kids and even your dog (if it is well-behaved and relatively small and enjoys contemporary dance)?
Jennifer Nugent, a dancer with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company is the mastermind behind last night’s performance of “I’d Go out with You,” which was accompanied by the twangy, somewhat eerie Chris Isaak-esque music of Sam Crawford (music director for company). Nugent, who in addition to choreographing the piece also danced in it with Asli Bulbul, is clearly not afraid of anything.
The rest of us were, for a little bit.
The piece begins with Nugent using her elastic, quick-moving body, to find a rhythm while pitted against the lonely lyrics of “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain.” Her muscles are just controlled enough to be on the edge of frantic, the effect is tense. When Bulbul joined Nugent on the stage the game changed drastically, even for the audience. Especially for the audience.
You see, we brought the girls; my nine-going-on-sixteen-year-old daughter and my six-going-on-princess niece. And watching two women (no matter if they are amazingly talented dancers) sensually pursue each other on stage is a tough thing to explain to an adult, much less a child.
I tried to explain to Anna (my daughter) that the dancers were curious about each other, that the highly sexualized kissing motions and the lifting and laying on of hands was supposed to represent their curiosity about each other and that when Nugent lifted Bulbul into the air or vice versa that they were giving support.
“But they’re both girls,” Anna said. “I think there should be a guy and a girl dancing. This is weird.”
She had a point. The audience shifted uncomfortably, now and again a child would laugh at the aggressive push-pull of arms and legs and the light-footed chase across the stage.
Silence fell as the two women danced provocatively in and out of a seeming lover’s embrace, unable to dance alone for too long. Even little liberal me contemplated taking the girls before the performance ended.
Of course, I didn’t. Somewhere, perhaps as the piece was coming to a close and the dancers were quieting and still, I reminded myself that this discomfort is exactly the thing that keeps us from introducing our kids and ourselves to new adventures outside of the proverbial box.
What did I expect, an antiseptic show of dance steps and no body contact? It’s Jacob’s Pillow for petessake, they wouldn’t dare anesthetize the power of dance for the sake of Puritan impulses!
Bottom line, go to Inside/Out, leave your preconceptions at the end of the road, and enjoy something new. And yes, you can bring your children. Trust me; it will inspire quite a conversation on the ride home.