Performing Arts: Dance
November 23, 2016
Note: I asked Jonathan Matthews to write a small piece on how he (as one of Ms. Carr's musicians and dancers) approaches a new dance versus a repeat performance.
Celtic Jazz Tryst: a reflection on the art of dance making
Darrah Carr Dance is full of isms – inside isms that comically comment on the M.O. I, having my toes dipped in a diverse array of small companies, have yet to experience elsewhere. The Darrah Darrah School of Tap and Jazz is a Montessori situation where every participant goes about their task load in the technique of Mark Conte (or Conte Mark…the protagonist of a book who is registered in school by both names, allowing him to multitask between two inverse identities and graduate school in half the time, being in two places at once…go figure).

What this actually translates to is a cyclical kind of choreographic resourcefulness and collaboration. Being a gigging company, we are always figuring things out on the fly, but what is usually an in the moment decision has colored the entire three-month process of working with Tara O’Grady and her Black Velvet Band, which provides the jazzifications of Irish standards and original O’Grady compositions to which we dance.

Having her music has inspired a reconsideration of material that has long lived in our repertory, to the point that the act of taking any piece of existing choreography and swinging it up-tempo may well become our newest ism. New material invariably is made as well, especially as Tara writes us new music, resulting, almost in the style of the found-narrative process of a jukebox musical, in our performative ability to trace storylines between each of our roles in these short bursts of percussive lilt that string back to back.

Tacked on to this is the joy of dancing Seán Curran’s On the Six. Over the years, Curran has added to our repertory his own spin on the blending of Irish and modern techniques that Carr begun in what is known as ModERIN. In a way, the piece, which has been under our belts for some time now, foretold the collaboration with O’Grady, which partners seamlessly with it.

Said joy is ultimately what makes every pre-Thanksgiving November so special for me. Amid my grungier downtown performance work, there is one time of the year I get to put on my tappy shoes and bear a smile I do not have to force. Even now as many in our community worry for the next four years, laughter and lightness are necessities more than ever, and who better than from the culturally collaborative and blithely rebellious and Irish?
EYE ON THE ARTS< NY -- Jonathan Matthews

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