Monday, February 25, 2013


choreography by Katharine Hawthorne
Joe Goode Annex, San Francisco
February 23rd, 2013

Katharine Hawthorne’s second full-length work, “Analog”, comprehensively studies range of motion. This sixty-five minute contemporary dance performance creates a ‘living’ Venn Diagram, where our physical/kinesthetic boundaries form one circle and movement possibilities form the second. From there, Hawthorne seeks to understand that important middle area of intersection, and to that end, how the physical (anatomy, space) affects range of motion. Rudolf Laban would be proud to see such a pure examination of direction, articulation, and extremes.

Photo: Ben Hersh
“Analog’s” sole set piece was an overhead projector (credited as ‘Apollo’ in the program) that displayed different patent specification drawings throughout the dance. This projector was moved several times during the piece so that the projections could appear in differing places on the two huge white walls. The first patent transparency was that of an artificial hand (file date – 1927) and provided the first image for Hawthorne’s choreographic exploration. After a brief entrance phrase, the entire cast (three women, two men) began a long section of hand intonation. A wide variety of movements were present: small and large; relaxed and static; voluntary and involuntary, abrupt and deliberate. This lengthy variation crescendoed over time, building into a more abandoned full body segment, where the hand movement was still the obvious point of initiation.

Next, the overhead projector was moved farther away so that it could display a new patent drawing on a much larger scale, encompassing most of one wall. Three dancers began a new movement phrase right in front of this ‘projected screen’, creating a sense that they were in front of the image, yet in it at the same time. This portion of “Analog” was a choreographical highlight, a throw back to early Cunningham: straightness in the spine, elastic limbs, all planes of the body (sagittal, coronal, transverse). This vignette was also proof that Hawthorne is drawn to interpreting all ranges of motion, from individual anatomy to the whole body in space. And for such a physical piece, there was only one very minor collision throughout – the dancers for the most part had very good spatial awareness.   

“Analog’s” repetitive motion/accumulation chapter was another standout. Here, the entire cast began with the same movement: unfolding the right side of the body. Then, different individuals moved on and added to this initial step, at their own pace, in their own time. After a while, all five were back in unison, having reached a new movement pattern. Brilliantly camouflaged within Hawthorne’s choreography, this was all underscored by a very appropriate and well-matched heartbeat soundscape.

My only criticism is that some of the internal segments were a little long. Not all of them, but a few went on well past their prime. The ending also seemed a bit ill-timed. About five minutes before the blackout, there was a clear wind-down where the dancers met with a moment of repose. It would have been a perfect ending, but instead, there was a final burst of energy. While it was impressive that the cast could rally for one last set of movement phrases, the final five minutes felt like an extra, unrelated add-on.  

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