Monday, February 8, 2016

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

0 comments

[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.

0 comments
We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue.
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines.

Comment policy:

Philly.com comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by Philly.com staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Read 0 comments
 
comments powered by Disqus
About this blog

Toby Zinman's night job since 2006 is theater critic for the Inquirer where she reviews New York and London as well as Philadelphia. Her day job: Prize-winning prof at UArts, author of five books about modern and contemporary drama, and doer of scholarly deeds (winner of five NEH grants, Fulbright lecturer at Tel Aviv University, visiting professor in China). She was recently named by American Theatre magazine "one of the twelve most influential critics in America."


Wendy Rosenfield has written freelance features and theater reviews for The Inquirer since 2006. She was theater critic for the Philadelphia Weekly from 1995 to 2001, after which she enjoyed a five-year baby-raising sabbatical. She serves on the board of the American Theatre Critics Association, was a participant in the Bennington Writer's Workshop, a 2008 NEA/USC Fellow in Theater and Musical Theater, and twice was guest critic for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival's Region II National Critics Institute. She received her B.A. from Bennington College and her M.L.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. She also is a fiction writer, was proofreader to a swami, publications editor for the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and spends all her free time working out and driving people places. Follow her on Twitter @WendyRosenfield.


Jim Rutter has reviewed theater for The Inquirer since September, 2011. Since 2006, he covered dance, theater and opera for the Broad Street Review, and has also written for many suburban newspapers, including The Main Line Times. In 2009, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded him a Fellowship in Arts Journalism. Thames & Hudson released his updated and revised version of Ballet and Modern Dance in June, 2012. From 1998 to 2005, he taught philosophy and logic at Drexel, and then Widener University. He also coaches Olympic Weightlifting for Liberty Barbell, and has competed at the national level in that sport since 2001.


Merilyn Jackson regularly writes on dance for The Inquirer and other publications. She specializes in the arts, literature, food, travel, and Eastern European culture and politics. In 2001, she was dance critic in residence at the Festival of Contemporary Dance in Bytom, Poland; in 2005, she received an NEA Critics’ Fellowship to Duke University’s Institute for Dance Criticism. She likes to say that dance was her first love but that when she discovered writing she began to cheat on dance. Now that she writes about dance, she’s made an honest woman of herself, although she also writes poetry.

Philly Stage
Latest Videos:
Also on Philly.com:
letter icon Newsletter