'Greyhounds and Other Virtual Ways to Travel'
Movement about moving without moving
"One of the ideas that inspired me was an article I read about a clock that Daniel Hillis is making," says Ellen Bartel, the artistic director of Spank Dance Company, responsible for such Austin modern dance gems as Killsport and, with the help of many others, Dance Carousel. "It's a clock that's supposed to last 10,000 years and keep time perfectly. They're going to set it in limestone in the mountains, and it's going to be a destination for people. Every 100 years, it's going to chime. Such hope for our future that we're actually going to be on this planet in 10,000 years, that we're going to be a society that still appreciates art and beauty.
"So I thought of how we travel without moving."
In Greyhounds and Other Virtual Ways to Travel, Bartel creates three dances exploring this idea. "The first dance is about dreams and memories," says Bartel. "For me, most dreams are about your memories, about learning from past experiences. Dreams are very pretty, they're extremely visual." The second dance is about traveling with technology. "I liked the idea that a poor person in India can have the same opportunities as somebody with more money just because they have a computer and can work. It levels the playing field," says Bartel. The final dance is about the future. "In our minds we can project into the future. Actually, I've done very cheesy, kind of typical images of the future. And I don't want to give away the ending, so I'm not going to tell you. It's really about how we're all on a journey together, so a lot of times we're doing the same movement, but all at different times. It has a lot of stillness in it and abstract movement."
During one of the dances, Bartel admits that she allows movement to occur in stillness. "At one point, I have the dancers standing still for five minutes. The dance goes on, and it's a really cool dance, but it does start in complete stillness. Now if I was in the audience, I'd say, 'Stand longer! Stand for the whole 20 minutes!'"
While I'm not certain I'd go for 20 minutes, Bartel's enthusiasm for it is undeniable, and I am certain that motion in stillness lies at the very heart, the beginning, and the ending, of every story and of all the journeys we are likely to take.
Greyhounds and Other Virtual Ways to Travel runs March 9-26, Thursday-Saturday, 8pm, Sundays, 5pm, at the Blue Theater, 916 Springdale. For more information, call 927-1118 or visit www.spankdance.com.