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ROGUE REVIEW: Fresno Dance Collective

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I have to be honest, I didn’t really enjoy the Fresno Dance Collective show Saturday afternoon. And, after talking to a few people in line at other shows yesterday, I get the sense that I’m not the only one who left this performance feeling a bit disappointed.

I can’t quite put my finger on what it was. Maybe it’s a combination of things, such as the show being a half hour (not the 45 minutes advertised) and feeling so rushed that I had no time to process what I saw between vignettes. It could be that I felt there was a lack of fluidity between moves, as if the dancers were preparing for the next step instead of seamlessly moving. Or maybe it was that I never really felt like the dancers — who are definitely talented — really connected to the music, choreography or each other. The moves were all there, beautiful bodies, crisp positions, movement, lightness, conviction, but yet, I never really felt anything. Maybe it was that this is the company’s premiere performance locally, and it just needs more time to shake out the bugs. Or, maybe it was just me. I love watching dancers, and I expect to be moved. Saturday, that didn’t really happen for me.

I really am excited to see this local dance company emerge. I applaud their goal of exposing and educating the Valley about modern dance. At one point in Saturday’s show, guest dancer Megan Yankee of San Mateo talks about how the company wants to get rid of the notion of modern dance not being understandable — that there is no right answer and it’s OK for each person to interpret the dance in a different way. I agree, and I hope they succeed.

SHOW INFO: 4 p.m. Saturday at Severance, 1401 N. Wishon. Admission: $10.

Responses to "ROGUE REVIEW: Fresno Dance Collective"

Anonymous says:

While I am not trying to make excuses and it was certainly not a flawless performance, I just wanted to mention that the husband of the company director passed away the night before the first show, and several changes were made to the program.

Stephen says:

I thought the husband of a dancer for the OTHER dance company, madcompany, passed away?

Either way, with Fresno Dance Collective, I was underwhelmed by far. I also didn’t like the condescending ‘hope you understand modern dance’ bit…I think Fresno audiences are sophisticated enough to ‘get’ modern dance…and it ain’t like modern dance is ‘new’ or anything.

Plus weren’t they supposed to improv-dance one of our secrets? That got passed over pretty quickly.

Concerned says:

Why would anyone put that information about someone’s death in a comment? Very inappropriate. Shame on the moderator for publishing that comment.

Gar says:

I’m always excited to see good modern dance so it was with great anticipation I went to the Fresno Arts Academy to see The Fresno Dance Collective. In watching this performance I was struck by two things: Some of the dance was recycled from previous performances (different company but same dancers and same choreography), and the remainder looked more like teasers than full-fledged performances. Though the show was supposed to be themed ‘secrets’ there really was very little play on that theme. I thought that the $10 for 30 minutes of teasers was a bit much. Next year it might be a good idea to have a full program.

Also Concerned says:

Stephen misunderstood the meaning of the lecture demonstration, the point of which was that you DON’T have to understand modern dance. While dancers would be delighted to hear that you and Fresno are sophisticated to “understand” modern dance, this is not very common at all. If it were, then modern dance would be just as valued in society as ballet, which it is not. This is likely why the company felt the need to welcome and warmly educate the audience.

Gar, it is not uncommon for choreographers to recycle material. From what I can tell, the dances that may have been recycled are on-going works in progress.

I was glad to read that the critic could still appreciate the company’s mission at the end of the review. Establishing a professional company is no small feat and any and all support is appreciated especially during these early baby steps.

It seems to me though, that the best dance critics out there are highly educated in the field, can help readers to understand what they are seeing contextually, and can act as an advocate for the art form. My role, in this particular situation, is to stand up for this company when no one else has. Potentially turning people away from a brand new company’s performance with so many negative reviews is a shame and does not speak to the reviewers’ commitment to dance advocacy and support.

This is not to say that the company doesn’t have bugs to work out and will not ever need to mature from their current state. (The company was only established this January… as in January 2010.) Nor do I completely disagree with some of the points raised in above reviewers. But I hope that the said reviewers will come to understand what impact they have with such negative reviews on anyone who hasn’t seen this company yet; that what they say and how they say it is important when trying to contribute to the art world in a legitimate way.

For further reading, please enjoy the dance reviews of Deborah Jowitt, dance critic for the Village Voice and founding member of Dance Critics Association.

Penny says:

Just an FYI the location at which the performance was held was California Arts Academy – Severance. Not the Fresno Arts Academy. :-).

Ayana says:

I agree with Also concerned that people shouldn’t leave negative reviews or comments about Fresno Dance Collective or any other show in Rogue because in can detour others from coming to the show and or it may allow them to come already exspecting the worst. Negative views can stunt the growth of the artist and Rogue performances itself which I feel is a great venue for the valley.

I enjoyed NOCO’s premiere performance and I am grateful for Amy Querin’s vision and drive for modern dance and for representing Fresno in the dance world. The members of the company are beautiful passionate dancers who give of themselves artisticly. NOCO recently returned from Dallas,TX where they performed “Belonging” and received good reviews, I look forward to seeing them in future shows and performances in the valley. The Rogue Festival got their feet wet and I’m sure will serve as a catalyst for them to work and dance with all their hearts even more. Thanks to CalArts Academy Severence for allowing them the opportunity to showcase their talents and “secrets” with us and I hope NOCO will return to the Rogue Festival again next year.

Mike Oz says:

Really? We shouldn’t leave negative reviews of shows?

Then, please do tell, why is that before every Rogue show the audience is encouraged to go leave reviews of the shows they see? I’ve never heard them say, “Only leave reviews IF you like the show.”

Michael says:

“Negative views can stunt the growth of the artist”

If you can’t take a bit of constructive criticism, then you shouldn’t be displaying your art for the public to see in the first place.

Smokey Behr says:

Ayana, you seem to be in a fantasy land. Negative reviews are far more telling than positive reviews, especially with live performances. This will encourage the performers to improve their acts for later shows, and future years.

This isn’t like your kids’ school play, where no matter how horrible they do you’ll tell them it was great just to spare their feelings. Welcome to the real world, where if you screw up, everyone will know about it.

Kim Burly says:

I disagree that the negative reviews will stunt the growth of the artists, Ayana. I’m no dancer, but I do think that criticism can be a pretty huge catalyst for growth in an artist if they use it as a teaching tool instead of taking it as an insult.

NerdMom says:

I appreciate the honest review. I was considering going to the performance and it would have been my first Rougue event. I was also considering taking my 6 year old. If I would have gone because everyone said it was good there would have been 2 main effects. 1)I wouldn’t take these nice people’s recommendations anymore and 2) I would assume that is the Rogue level across the board. Both would have worse effects on my Rogue attendance than reading a bad review.

If I no longer trusted these reviews I wouldn’t step out to something new (especially by myself) on their say so. If I assumed this was the overall Rogue level across the board I may not try another one. If shorted, rough performances are what Rogue were about I wouldn’t really be all that interested.

FYI, I am planning on seeing this dance group but I am going to let the polish first!

paige says:

I saw the show on Saturday, did not know what to expect but was delighted. The dancers were well-trained and the choreography looked good. Of course, I don’t know if anything was recycled, but for someone seeing it the first time, if was very enjoyable. It was a short program, but worth going to. The Severance School location looked fine, the only drawback is that seating is limited: it was packed. Finally, yes, this new company is a very interesting artistic development for the region, worth supporting.

Ayana says:

Wow, my comment wasn’t meant to spark a debate but we all know there is a difference between negativity and constructive criticism. I know I mentioned it being a catalyst as well, perhaps the reviews should wait until the end of Rogue because bad ones may deter others from attending. I support Fresno Dance Collective and look forward to seeing them perform again in Fresno.

Jenny says:

I saw the show and was inspired by the creavity and fluid movement of the dancers! I applaud Amy for working so hard and making a vision of hers come true.