When is a dance show really a dance show?

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by John Munger • July 5, 2008 • Some shows legitimately list “dance” as one of their genres on The Fringe website because they include genuine dancing even though their primary focus may be elsewhere. Good examples include many “musical theater” productions. Still others list “dance” because dance is utterly and primarily what the show is about. A third, and growing, category would be shows that cross-mix disciplines through dance, physical theater, video and Yaweh only knows what else. A good example of this third group would be work by Live Action Set or (to name a group that is NOT on The Fringe this year) Off-Leash Area.

If you set the Fringe website search engine for “dance” you’ll get 23 entries. Don’t trust this result 100 percent. We have an unusually large number of Fringe newbies producing shows this year and not all of them know how to market themselves fully effectively and efficiently. I spotted at least one show that is clearly dance that didn’t list a genre at all, at least two that mentioned dance in their descriptive text but not in their genre choice, two others that…..but never mind these tedious details.

Going Through the Movements is the blog of John Munger, one of five bloggers covering the Minnesota Fringe Festival for the Daily Planet.

I’ve scanned each and every show on the website. I have formed the impression that there are perhaps 30 shows that seemingly might involve dance or at least highly disciplined and communicative movement in some way or another.

For the next two weeks I’m going to start working my way through these 30 shows. And giving you good readers the low-down.

For now however, let me say that 14 of the 30 are almost certainly “pure dance” or something so close to it in “physical theater” that it takes dancers to perform it.

These 14 include (and I’m sorry to report I’m not up to speed on HTML links in this new website yet)

Accidental Dialogue — Kanopy Dance Theatre (Madison)

Ars Longa, Vita Brevis — Kari Jensen (a new Fringe face)

Cast of Dancing Delights — Suzanne Wiltgen (Of Three Dances)

Conundrum Rehabbed — Joseph Bingham

Dance of the Whiskey Faerie — Sara and Joe Scrimshaw

Deviants — Live Action Set

Gone, Gone, Gone — Rodero and Schuchart (Milwaukee)

Gypsy Passion — Shadia and Raks Bedawi

Modern Muses — DRP Dance Co.

small aida — Penelope Freeh

The Thinnest Woman Wins — Dixie Shulman, Brooklyn

We Live Like This — Kaleena Miller and Ned Sturgis

We Walk Among You — Ray Terrill

Women in China — Shen Pei

These 14, just to start with, are a DYNAMITE collection. I think we will see some really strong dance productions this year.

Start figuring out your calendars…..

John Munger has been performing, teaching, choreographing, researching and writing about dance for about 40 years. He teaches at Zenon, day-jobs for Dance/USA, and still hasn’t gotten much of it right.