The “N” in iNput, a dance work from Megan Pitcher of MegLouise Dance, might mean anything. If it was meant to emphasize the fascinating input the nine-member improvisational company sought from the sparse audience Monday at the Contemporary Art Center’s black box theater, it could stand for “Next to Nothing.” And maybe that’s a shame.
But I, for one, was a little mystified about what my participation ended up amounting to. Entering audience members received a program describing the upcoming performance as a meeting ground where dreams, choices, questions and explorations would be presented, both ours and the company’s. We were invited to write a dream or wish of ours on a slip of paper for consideration. We were also given three rectangles of colored paper, which we were to raise to indicate our choice of options during the performance. It would all be explained.
Pitcher has said she wants her all-female company of movers to present themselves as ordinary people, rather than stereotypical “dancer” personae, to avoid mining stereotypical women’s dance image such as ghosts (ballet’s Giselle?) or a goddesses (the prima ballerina?), even though those images are not what most modern dancers portray. The implication seemed to be that if we found her dancers drib and drab, we could dig into the performance for fresher meaning by examining our suggestions as portrayed by the dancers.
For me, unfortunately, that wish never came true. The performance moved with glacial slowness, beginning with one dancer who established herself onstage in parallel foot position and began to wave her arms and torso in an almost robotic fashion, as if she were making kinesthetic discoveries. She reached, raised one arm and considered it and made variations on that theme as more dancers slowly entered and established their presence onstage in the same manner. This pacing was a taste of things to come.
Eventually, the group moved into a circular configuration, with more running steps and carving motions of the arms and hands. After a disembodied voiceover asked, “What does your heart long for?” we were treated to the bringing forth of the large glass snifter in which we had placed our suggestions. Each dancer drew and solemnly proclaimed the “dream or wish” — oddly, each one included the desire for “Peace.” Whether the continuing program had any more meaning to deliver was hard to discern, because by then most had lost interest.
There were many intriguing beginnings of what appeared as a combination of pre-rehearsed and improvised moves, sometimes seeming to be lead by one dancer. A sequence that drew on contact improvisation technique was configured as two lines of women across from each other. One line repeatedly launched themselves toward the opposing group, as in a strange game of Red Rover. But nothing developed other than a vague feeling that the dancers were being led by random inner feelings prompted by words, often channeling into preconceived sequences. Turns out that the idea of “Peace” was more soothing than remarkable, at least for MegLouise Dance.
Pre-performance, the audience had been invited to just “jump in” with shouted questions or suggestions to the dancers. Unfortunately, it never happened. The genuine smiles on the faces of the performers as they bowed briefly post-performance were the first indication that this earnest group might have had much more to offer. Grade: D
— Kathy Valin