Tere Mathern and Tim DuRoche have created an exciting collision of dance and music.
I’ve been around Tere Mathern on and off for years at Conduit dance. I took some classes from her when I first moved to PDX over 5 years ago. To be honest, at that time it was a bit out of my league. The sharp technique, demanding turns and smart and cerebral choreography were a level up from my skill set coming from my community college in Northern California. Since then I’ve seen Tere perform solo for Ten Tiny Dances and in groups as director/dancer at conduit, Performance Works Northwest and other venues. She strikes me as quick, clever and poignant, fully ready to embody her vision. Often her cerebral and pointed rhythms are wholly about the body and leave little room for characterization and overly emotional journeys. She lives in the electric gesture.
Tere, paired with Tim DuRoche with his band Battle Hymns & Gardens have a charged synergy we know as jazz. This piece was collaborative, relying on “minimum structures for maximum opportunity.”
The room is hot when we sit down. Some fun temperature games happen. Sound is music with strategic fumblings from the band. A skirt is caught with a breeze. Dancers stand and witness each other.
The beginning of this work is busy. It’s so busy I’m getting lost catching all the details… so many details, so many spines twisting and curving, so many sharp turns and angles so many connections and swift feet covering space, meeting, collapsing and constantly dancers arms/legs/heads obstruct the trajectory of others momentum. Amidst the flurry any collision that seemed “unplanned” was exciting… I know it’s cheap but when someone gets smacked in the face accidentally I get excited. It happened enough to where I realized it wasn’t an “accident” as much of a planned hazard of the improvised structure. What happens when you have two strong willed embodied moving beings attack the same space of dance floor? That tension and release of tension when the dancers often and immediately cooperated and used that collision to partner was a constant in Gather.
I’m happy I got to see opening night because there is a freshness to opening nights that can turn it out for audience and performer alike. Dancer Kristine Anderson turned it out on opening night. I danced with Kristine years ago for a project produced by Impetus Arts. We also shared an evening at Conduit’s Dance + festival earlier this year. Kristine started partnering with red haired energetic Eowyn Emerald Barrett and they stole my attention for quite some time. They danced together through a long section of busy flurry… and continued while all the other dancers moved off stage to stand with the band. Kristine moved beautifully, strongly, and with presence because she was listening to the entirety of the piece… space, rhythm, light, the dancers bodies, the sound of the music. She had the sense to wait for other dancers to catch rhythm without directing them, she brought a character with purpose and intention and I think her personal joy of dancing shined through with every turn, stop and connection. She was the electric gesture. Eowyn and Kristine partnered, collided, lifted and chased each other until the sax players decided to stand up and fill the space with some resonance verging on noise. Sound bouncing across the beautiful wood floor, the pillars and charged air at certain points and notes made my spine flush like I was blushing…
Come for the dancing get stunned and taken by the music. This is a great team and they have a lot of material to work with. I wanted to close my eyes and just LISTEN for a bit, but then I would have to stop watching the flurry of dance… and why would I want to close my eyes when all of the band members are so freaking handsome? (No seriously…)
I said earlier that Tere has a knack for cerebral gesture and it leaves little room for character. GATHER was emotional and full of character. With some stand out moments by each individual as they collided into a whole. All the dancers bodies engaged in a dynamic listening of sound and music, the structured improvisation and the happy accidents brought about a synergy that left me excited and charged.
I do have some questions though. I’m curious about the process… how much creative input each dancer had to the improvised structure. I wonder if certain folks stood out at certain times because they were the authors of that moment, or were heavily invested in it’s process? I wonder how much of the score is free form and dictated by the music. At times I felt the skill and ferociousness of the band drove the dancers wild.. Also, and just something I notice… why the pedestrian cloths on the dancers? I hope over the course of the next 5 nights they choose to have a glamour night and see what happens with some sparkle and shine… some eleganza and style. I wonder what that would do to the story?
I’m going to come see another night to see what shifts!
You can too!