Katie Roquemore, Dance for Change
Modern dance has many different varieties. It draws from classical dance, such as ballet, and there is also a great sense of body movement and language. I took classical dance when I was growing up and loved all my dance classes, but modern dance has always been most interesting for me because it has the least definition and structure. All movement is acceptable in modern dance. As we’ve seen in class, modern dance can tell stories amazingly. At my home university, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, there is an excellent Department of Dance, so I take advantage of many live performances. One of my favorite performances was John Gamble’s “The Tragic End of Lust: A Tale of the Seven Deadly Sins.” It was an interesting combination of dance, theater, and video, but I liked it mostly because it spoke out against the evils in the world.
John Gamble’s choreography reminds me a little of Mats Ek, in the way that the dance itself tells a story aside from any speaking roles. The premise for the performance is a story about the seven deadly sins. It combines speaking, dance numbers, and videos. Gamble wants us to think about how in today’s society we embrace so many of the seven deadly sins. Greed drives capitalism, envy drives the need for physical perfection, and wrath enflames causes of war. Gamble believes that only lust is still treated as a sin. His aim was to make the audience ask “Why do we condemn sexuality and the body while ignoring more calculated and predatory assaults on one another and our planet?” Throughout the whole performance a video plays over the stage. It shows pictures of those in the world that suffer because of the sins of others; children in poor countries, victims of wars, genocide, and the destruction of the environment. The dance and theater aspect of the performance is not as explicit in its portrayal of the negative effects of sins like greed in the larger world, instead the dancers tell a story which lets the audience draw their own conclusions. There were seven main dancers, the sins, and then other dancers that joined them for larger numbers. I felt that all of the elements came together really well.
Dance is an art form that exists in all cultures. It seems natural for human beings to express themselves by dancing. Dance can be a critical art form- much like music or literature. It can make statements about the world we live in. I really appreciate this aspect of dance, which is why I like John Gamble’s creativity in this performance. I like how dance can push the limits, not only physically but also politically. In the Mats Ek performance “Apartment” that we saw in class he is also making statements about society. Each different scene in the apartment portrayed a different type of life. I personally like the dance with the vacuum cleaners. I felt like it was a statement against the subordination of women in marriage. I think that more dance companies should promote social change and awareness of injustices around the world through their public venues.
“The Tragic End of Lust: A Tale of the Seven Deadly Sins” is the first modern dance performance I saw that spoke out against society. I also thought that the combination of dance, theater, and video was very unique. It was a very interesting performance, and I really liked that we left the theater talking and thinking about what we had just seen. Dance can help to change the world.