How many ways can you metaphorically indicate having an orgasm? It turns out quite a lot, as you’ll learn if you go to see Dancebums at the Red Eye Theater in Minneapolis, in a double bill with Taja Will for the last weekend of Red Eye’s “New Works 4 Weeks” series.
Set in an imagined future after the discover of a new sex organ, Dancebums’ “must be | or what I’m looking for” sees the five young members of the company explore the possibilities of pleasure in a strange marriage between science fiction and contemporary dance.
These aren’t orgasms like Meg Ryan’s in “When Harry Met Sally,” but they rival that epic scene in intensity. The dancers create the multitude of climaxes through a variety of movement discoveries. Pointing toes while laying on the floor, thrusting a pelvis while sitting with legs spread apart, fluttering fingers against thighs, waving arms in the air, jumping up and down — all are methods that lead toward extreme bliss in Dancebums’ fictional future.
The piece has some fun sci-fi elements, such as metallic flags and silver tunics the dancers change into near the end of the piece (there’s also a most bizarre tuft of hair that the one male dancer, Eben Kowler, wears on top of his clothes in his crotch area for the first part of the show). The piece engages and titillates, providing a sensorial rush throughout, though the piece never gets much beyond setting up this hypersexual world.
Also on the bill for the evening is “My Only Option was SABOTAGE,” in which choreographer Taja Will explores the human need for togetherness, showing the comfort of partnership and safety of camaraderie, as well as the more sinister side of relationships and groupthink.
Will is at her best in more subtle moments. In one section, the dancers pair off, walking in step with their partners, one ahead of the other as they embrace each other from ahead or behind. Seemingly intimate, the couples emanate a dangerous codependency, overprotecting to the point of control over their other half.
Will employs a gamut of dancing styles, with imagery thrown in that ranges from weddings to family portraits to military formations, plus a plethora of biblical apples spread across the stage for extra symbolic measure. The work never feels forced, resulting in a simmering piece of muted anger and anxiety that occasionally bursts with fits of rage.
Sheila Regan is a Minneapolis writer.