To be blunt, I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Susanna Hood’s work. It’s that, save for Rêverie de furies, a delightfully gothic piece that she created for the students of L’École de danse contemporaine de Montréal, her work tends to be quite earnest. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, even in our age or irony, as Margie Gillis has proven again and again. It does ensure that, if her work hits the mark, it’s emotionally potent; but if it misses, it can be rather painful. It’s like when you go over to someone’s house and, unprompted, they play music for you. If they’re great, it could be magical, but if not, it can be awkward as fuck. That being said, The Muted Note is about as in between these two poles as Hood could ever be.
In the beginning, the dance is just as jazzy as the music that accompanies it; in these small circle walks executed by the dancers, as well as in the partner work, with its musical comedy airs, though with the messiness of contemporary dance and the hesitations of improvisation. The dancers’ footsteps, heavy, vibrate all the way to the first row. They keep an eye on each other. The other’s movement can’t be counted on, but the other can.
In improvised dance, it is the physical interaction between the performers, with its risk factor, that is most compelling. However, in most instances I’ve witnessed, dancers tend to fall back on the safety of solo work (except in contact improvisation, obviously). After the opening section, such is the case here. One can also notice the movements that dancers tend to fall back on. When they do reach out for the other, it is often more an interruption of their movement through the space as their arm prevents them from moving forward.
Just as they brush aside the partner work, so they do with the more jazzy dancing. That is until the solo by Alanna Kraaijeveld in the middle section of the garden poems, “Picking Daffodils,” when she executes small steps while remaining in the same spot, spins, and moves her arms about excessively. Like in musicals, this solo looks like a duo with a missing or imagined partner; or, where the audience is the partner in what is the antipode of the private dance, a dance that only exists to be seen.
With a sing-songy voice that effectively masks Page’s poetry, Hood offers a show that often feels like a jazz version of R. Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet.
October 2-4 at 7:30pm & October 5 at 4pm
Tickets: 23$ / Students: 19$