Friday, August 1, 2014
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Live Arts Review: PRIVATE PLACES

"I didn't think I could be bored looking at beautifully built dancers in the buff," writes critic Merilyn Jackson, "but absent a single touch of irony or comic relief throughout [Jumatatu Poe's 'Private Places,' I was.

Live Arts Review: PRIVATE PLACES

[TEXT]Nudity or near-nudity has been featured in almost every Live Arts/Fringe event I’ve attended — and I’m only halfway through the festival. Since I haven’t  heard anyone yell “Let’s get naked!” I’ve kept my clothes on so far. I can’t say the same for the performers in <NO1>Swarthmore and UArts dance instructor<NO> Jumatatu Poe’s [/TEXT][ITALIC]Private Places[/ITALIC] — members of Poe’s company, idiosynCrazy — which opened Saturday at the Live Arts studio. 
In the lobby we checked our bags, then were divided into four alphabetized groups and herded in as meekly as airline passengers. Some were seated in aisles and some around the periphery of the black-and-white space. 
Imagine your flight attendant breaking into J-Sette, a mix of southern black marching band moves stylized by gay men — often in competitions — or into mad cackling abruptly terminated when another dancer bops them on the head. Their silvery gray and black strappings by Katie Coble come off in pieces by evening’s end, leaving scanty purple and chartreuse underwear that eventually is shed for the final 15 minutes of the 75-minute show. 
Until then the dancers squirm zombie-like into suitcases and bully each other into bullying audience members into standing up, sitting down, changing seats, and rearranging the space until the center is cleared for the frontal nudity, the plastic sheeting, the oil bath, the towel down. 
Leanne Grieger, Gregory Holt, Shannon Murphy, Gabrielle Revlock, Samantha Speis, Zornitsa Stoyanova, Michele Tantoco and Poe performed it all with stoic intensity. Murphy brutalized the others, feverishly shouting orders as the senior, what, captain?
I didn’t think I could be bored looking at beautifully built dancers in the buff, but absent a single touch of irony or comic relief throughout, I was. If Poe’s intention was to annoy and bore his audience, he succeeded mightily; many of us left rolling our eyes and muttering under our breaths about having been held captive on the runway so long, waiting for the piece  to take off.
[SIGNATURE]<QM>— Merilyn Jackson
Nudity or near-nudity has been featured in almost every Live Arts/Fringe event I’ve attended — and I’m only halfway through the festival. Since I haven’t  heard anyone yell “Let’s get naked!” I’ve kept my clothes on so far. I can’t say the same for the performers in Jumatatu Poe’s Private Places — members of Poe’s company, idiosynCrazy — which opened Saturday at the Live Arts studio.

In the lobby we checked our bags, then were divided into four alphabetized groups and herded in as meekly as airline passengers. Some were seated in aisles and some around the periphery of the black-and-white space. 

Imagine your flight attendant breaking into J-Sette, a mix of southern black marching band moves stylized by gay men — often in competitions — or into mad cackling abruptly terminated when another dancer bops them on the head. Their silvery gray and black strappings by Katie Coble come off in pieces by evening’s end, leaving scanty purple and chartreuse underwear that eventually is shed for the final 15 minutes of the 75-minute show. 

Until then the dancers squirm zombie-like into suitcases and bully each other into bullying audience members into standing up, sitting down, changing seats, and rearranging the space until the center is cleared for the frontal nudity, the plastic sheeting, the oil bath, the towel down.

Leanne Grieger, Gregory Holt, Shannon Murphy, Gabrielle Revlock, Samantha Speis, Zornitsa Stoyanova, Michele Tantoco and Poe performed it all with stoic intensity. Murphy brutalized the others, feverishly shouting orders as the senior, what, captain? I didn’t think I could be bored looking at beautifully built dancers in the buff, but absent a single touch of irony or comic relief throughout, I was. If Poe’s intention was to annoy and bore his audience, he succeeded mightily; many of us left rolling our eyes and muttering under our breaths about having been held captive on the runway so long, waiting for the piece  to take off.

— Merilyn Jackson

Private Places Tuesday-Thursday at the Live Arts Studio, 919 N. 5th St. $28-$35.

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