Pants Off Dance Off
This weekend was awesome. We opened not just one but two new PF one-time-only shows, both chock full of new work. If you weren’t able to make it out, we missed the shit out of you. Good news is, it looks like our horizon is plump full of more in the future.
We started on Friday night busting out our multi-dynamic new Variety Death Match Show line-up, featuring all new work from PF groups, Mission CTRL and ForePlays, as well as a plethora of other new work ranging from music and stand-up to new acts birthed out of various nooks and crannies in retreat beach houses. We packed the new Z Below space (formerly TJT) to the brim, and the night left us all grinning, sweaty and a little sleep deprived.
Saturday’s PianoFights Pants Off Dance Off was a different show entirely and a new type of production for PF — bringing together a variety of different Bay Area dancers to perform a one night only multi-faceted dance show, hosted by the fearless Raymond Hobbs and fellow producer Brian Gibbs, ending with a pantsless dance party hosted by DJ Short Shorts aka our own lovely and talented Sean Conroy. The theme of the night asked both performers and audience alike to shed their pants and join in on a night of dance that was both entertaining, slightly educational and fun.
In the process of producing our Pants Off show, it was a priority for the production team (P.F members Jena McRae, Brian Gibbs, and myself) to represent the PF “voice” while incorporating a largely non-PianoFight cast. It was a blending of two worlds that by the day of the show had suddenly left me with a small pit in my stomach and an irrepressible urge to keep refilling my wine glass. The combination of music and the movement of the human body telling stories has always owned a little bit of my soul. The effect it can create has a way of diving into one’s pores and transcending views of the world and traditional modes of communication. It can be magic. In that same vein, some dance can also leave you feeling bored, lacking and irritable. Herein laid my fear.
In the same way that to me seeing the same theater shows produced again and again can become a little stale, so can seeing the same work from dance companies. Growing up in somewhat of a “the nutcracker can go f-itself” atmosphere, my dance school put on a production of new work each year. Surealia, ebbed and flowed with what was a constantly evolving storyline. Creating a dance show that had you continually wanting to come back for more. No two shows were alike, it was a sort of Cirque Du Soleil like ballet production that was the breeding ground for what has turned out to be some pretty extraordinary talent. The show was different from what the community was expecting AND it was awesome. On top of that it was the first show I had been a part of that all my white boy Marin gangster rapper friends actually saw and liked. This may or may not been because of all the females were cloaked in skin tight tie-dyed unitards but it was also because they weren’t doing conventional “Sugar Plum Fairy” ballet. It was new, the movement was new, the music was new. Legs were being lifted and beats were being dropped in a way that had a variety of people’s attention. Clearly, we were onto something.
A lot of people’s idea of dance is being forced to see the Nutcracker for the 27th time during family holidays and school field trips. And while for some of us this is the cats meow — for others, it’s beyond played out and irrelevant. My hope, by taking a stab at producing a dance show, was to captivate our usual PF audience, who may or may not be your typical theater going audience member, and have them enjoy watching dance in the same way, even though they may or may not be your typical dance going audience member. What happened on Saturday night had me walking away feeling a surprising optimism about doing work like this again. PianoFight had successfully produced new work by talented, enthusiastic artists and more than that, a surprising amount of commentary after the show said that people had appreciated seeing dance in an accessible, somewhat casual, and pantlessly enthusiastic atmosphere. They wanted to see more, we wanted to do more, and nobody was wearing any pants. Hell YES. Here’s to more potentially pantless, always expanding movement and music based collaborations in our future. What What.