Freneticore and Frenetic Theater October NEXT OPENING ??
August 22, 23, 2014 —-Welcome to The Houston Critic’s coverage of Freneticore! I have to give a BIG THANK-YOU to Rebecca French, the Artistic Director and a Founder of Freneticore. I’ve been proposing a method of criticism for, especially, student dance shows. Ms. French has given me permission to demonstrate the viability of that way of communicating with the student dancers, the producing agencies, and the Houston audience so that The Houston Critic’s primary goals of Honesty, Integrity, and Fairness are accomplished with CONSTRUCTIVE criticism achieved in an attempt to make the Houston cultural community even better than it already is.
What I propose is the taking of a flat single camera videotape of the performance and allowing me to cut out the most impressive parts of the performance. It is my contention that students might get sensory overload, trying to learn from performance of their student dances, that they FEEL when things go amazingly right, when it all comes together, but that it would be nice to reinforce that feeling of ‘it worked’, usually for those few minutes or sec0nds, but ‘it worked’ like the magic and wonder that it is to have something really, really come together in performance, live.
I realize that the highlighting of The Houston Critic’s preferences in performance is what this may be mostly about, that producing agencies often present still photography or even video which shows highlights THEY want the potential audience to know about and focus upon. The fact is, though, that it is very hard to be fair to people who are trying to consider whether or not to attend subsequent performances, especially, of student shows and, at the same time, not to be unkind to students. This method of portraying what we were impressed by seems to resolve that issue.
PLEASE KNOW THAT FRENETICORE IS NOT A STUDENT ORGANIZATION, they are mostly professional, or at least MFA in dance graduates. These real dancers have allowed us to try to prove the viability of the above method of criticism. NORMALLY, THERE WOULD NOT BE POSTED A TAPE OF THE WHOLE SHOW. We are just including the tape of the show as a proof of and a request for permissions from other producing agencies to do more of this method of constructive criticism.
The above are press release photos from Freneticore.
My original coverage for August 22, 2014’s Quench included exposition of my insecurities about people making faces just after I speak with them.
“I told her I was confused by what I’d seen and when that happens I often try to find the Director/Choreographer to give him or her a chance to clarify before I write a critical review which speaks of that confusion. She was nice enough to share with this critic who got on stage for the first time when he was 5 years old, that dance and theater are often confusing when people haven’t seen much of it. I asked if her method for choreographing was to herd the troupe, like a shepherd, pushing them into groups but not asking of them any movement that is foreign to them. She told me that sometimes they bring dance and ideas to her and she shapes them and sometimes she gives them ideas and they make movement of the idea. I queried if she was proud of the show by asking if this show was exemplary of the work she presents with Freneticore Dance. She said it was. I asked her what “Frenetic” means to her. She said something like ‘chaotic, fast’ I tried to find out if the chaotic in ‘frenetic’ is what justifies the particular type of order that I saw on stage. She said something like, ‘this show is a slow one’. I asked her if she disliked the ideas and methods of the Alexander Technique. I guess that stuff was too old fashioned for her to have heard of it. I summarized it as “upness” in the motions and postures of the dancers. She said her troupe was definitely “downish”, or something to that effect. I said I noticed a lot of slipping on the wet rubberized floor and an enormous concentration by the dancers on their feet. I asked if they always had so much ‘foot attention’, even when they weren’t slipping on the water”.
I wanted to show that I had given lots of opportunity to explain things I might not have known or noticed. I continued–
–“This was my first time to go to Frenetic theater. I thought, maybe, it might be wise to ask the managing director of the theater if my car was safe. He said they had never had a break in. The house staff was friendly. They promised me I’d get wet. I sat center, as advised, and watched the 90 or so seat house fill up with audience. What a GREAT idea to do a water show during the Houston summer. I’m not sure it was THAT great of an idea to put water-proofing plastic between the audience and the featured movies on the upstage screen. They looked like they might have been more interesting if I could see more than blurry shapes moving behind the plastic. The music, throughout, was pleasing, original, homemade, good.”
I went on —
— “The dance started. Okay, this show got me trying to refresh, for myself, what I think dance is. Traditionally, one might expect well conditioned, flexible, maybe even gorgeous bodies. It might be too old fashioned to expect those things of a dance show now. Maybe it’s more post modern to let all kinds of shapes and conditions be a part of the dance. There was a member of the audience, well before the show started, who wanted to feel the rubber floor of the open stage, to play Stevie Nicks under the pre-set lights, to extoll the virtues of ‘freedom’ to the audience. She got up and danced impromptu with the talents and movements she knew, those that came easily to her. She was asked to stop and take her seat. Traditionally, one might expect some harmony of motion, some unison movement, some extraordinary exhibitions of balance, grace, shape, composition, interaction. If the show had eshewed all of those, not doing some fun group poses, not manipulating the shape of dancers together somewhat, I might have thought that freneticore was what I witnessed at a point almost to the halfway mark of the show. The movements of the dancers, some graceful and dance-like posers, some plodders, some working in twos, individually were slow, not fast, but there was a frenetic chaos created for my eyes, which darted about to try to see all that was happening on stage. When I questioned the choreographer , she didn’t seem like that’s what she was trying to convey. I had to ask her if the dancers were her students or amateur. I was led to believe that many of them were a part of the troupe and some were brand new. Jaime Garcia made movement and grace a part of his presentation. He was beautiful. I guess slip sliding away wasn’t the only motif for the night. Stacey Ramsower was a CHARACTER which made me wonder why the other dancers weren’t so much CHARACTERS. They seemed to be DANCERS. Some did beautiful dance moves that seemed relatively unrelated to other movement on stage, unless, of course, EVERYTHING is related, if it’s movement, if it’s human, even if it’s disorderly and seemingly unplanned, like the lady doing Stevie Nicks moves and yelling about freedom. If the dances I witnessed weren’t just about the beautiful human body, graceful movement, floating and flying in the air, great composition, balance, character, story, then what was what I saw ‘about’ and what was it for and what was it worth? If I saw so much of the same easy movement from the Stevie lady, why wouldn’t I ask her to come outside and move for me, for free, for freedom? What was more presentable about “Quench”, looking mostly like a brain-storming rehearsal for a high school dance concert, than her interrupted dance?
I was invited to videotape, which is why I’m publishing these words tomorrow with the video of the show.”
OH, MY, WAS I EMBARRASSED TO HAVE WRITTEN THOSE WORDS!!!! Rebecca French was wonderful to me, allowing the videotaping, acting like a wonderful host to the post production audience. How could I be fair about my reaction to the show and yet be appreciative of these wonderful people that are Freneticore? If I had the method available to do the clips of what I thought worked or kind of worked, that would be a nice substitute for the above rambles.
With this clip I could show without saying, that these poses excited me
With this next clip I could highlight what I thought was a beautiful pose
or ,with this one, highlight what I took to be beautiful interaction
A nice moment of ensemble action
a moment of, admittedly derivative, excitement
an interesting moment on stage
a moment of togetherness
a nice dance move
The below was, to me, an impressive moment, where I thought I saw the movement of a river in the same speed-movement of the sliding dancers.
Something sensual, enticing —
I have a thing about just walking on stage, that it must be/have something more
togetherness, kind of —