May 11, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

An Omaha Magazine web exclusive.

Perhaps we should blame it on poet e.e. cummings. You know, that ongoing trend where lowercase letters are used in proper names that would otherwise be capitalized.

I was reminded of this oddity the other night at Saturday’s performance of collected things by tbd. dance collective. It’s not so much an editor’s nightmare to resist the temptation to represent the group as Tbd. Dance Collective as it’s just particularly painful to do so because there is absolutely nothing at all “lowercase” about the edgy and intoxicating work of this troupe of dance anarchists.

In an octet of short pieces at Motion41 Dance (that’s right…no space before the “41,” but that’s a different pet peeve) the jarring blended with the ethereal as the raw power of modern dance unfolded. Virtually all of the company’s core members have danced with The Moving Co., the storied University of Nebraska-Omaha collective founded in 1935. And it is somehow appropriate that several have also trained in classical ballet. After all, modern dance is often described as a rebellious uprising against the conventions and formalities of en pointe stylings.

As a group, the cadre of artists are best taken as a single-cell organism. Just as one piece was presented as a roiling eruption of limbs-everywhere frenetics, the next could be an idyllic vision of serenity in a neoclassical, “Isadoarble” motif with subtle echoes of the earliest, now-century-old choreography of the genre.

But it was the solos that will linger longest in this reviewer’s memory.

Founding member Kat Fackler, the Bettie Page look-alike (right down to the razor-sharp bangs) featured in the current issue of The Encounter, was hypnotic in the extended solo that punctuated “Off Guard,” a Nichol Mason Lazenby-choreographed work originally commissioned by the Omaha Academy of Ballet for the 2015 Omaha Dance Project.

But it was Lazenby herself that delivered the showstopper of the evening in yet another of her own works, “Strange Mercy,” the only fully solo piece. The guest artist, one who performed with the L.A. Dance Co. and later taught as a professor at the University of Arizona before returning to Omaha, received the loudest and most sustained applause.

Modern dance gets into this writer’s head in a way that other forms of the art cannot. For some strange reason, Lazenby’s movements had me conjuring images of Anna Pavlova dancing Mikhail Fokine’s “The Dying Swan.” Except that Pavlova was dancing all the wrong steps. And that she was thoroughly, over-the-top insane. And on acid.

Forget the use of lowercase for such a performance. That one deserves nothing less than permanently glueing down the CAPS LOCK BUTTON ON MY KEYBOARD.

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