DTW Studio Series: loving means ramming

Dancers in loving means ramming, photo by Vilem Benes

Over the weekend, Dance Theater Workshop presented Rebecca Davis’s loving means ramming as part of its Studio Series, which provides artists with a 100-hour residency and the opportunity to show their work in an informal setting. At a time when arts organizations and funders seem to be more interested in product than process, the Studio Series is unique in that it emphasizes the importance of creativity and experimentation, allowing artists to have an extended amount of time to play, create, and build something, without demanding a fixed outcome.

loving means ramming, which is part of a larger work in progress called what I’m saying is born from the weather, creates a seductive, dream-like atmosphere in which the cast of sixteen women portray doppelgangers, lovers, and friends in a series of seemingly unrelated vignettes that are intimate, profound, and indifferent. In one duet, two women’s hair is braided together, their foreheads touching as they sit center stage and recite the subject lines of spam e-mails. Another couple plays a childish foot game and another roll around giggling and tickling each other. In spite of the silliness, the piece is weighed down by pregnant pauses, glum faces, and a mysteriously dark mood. During a post-performance discussion, Davis explained that much of her work is based on imagery and her obsession with collecting things, such as the weather column in newspapers, obituaries, and text from spam e-mails. This bizarre mix sits comfortably in the eerie setting, since dreams do tend to wander nonsensically from one scene to the next.

loving means ramming leaves plenty to ponder. Presented in its entirety in a larger venue, with lighting and sets (Davis mentioned that she has a venue in mind), the piece will undoubtedly look different, and perhaps more complete.  Yet, works in progress are often more satisfying for the audience than finished works because there is less pressure to find The Meaning in the piece. After a finished work, it is so common to hear audience members bemoan the fact that they did not understand the piece, or that it didn’t make sense to them. Knowing that a work in progress is evolving – and that even the choreographer hasn’t completely “figured it out” – allows the audience to soak in what they’re watching instead of dwelling on what the piece is or isn’t trying to say. DTW’s Studio Series continues throughout the spring.

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