Equal Footing, post-intermission, appeared more polished than its earlier half. Annie Rosenthal Parr’s “Window” greeted the audience from their 15-minute dance break, and immediately I felt apprehensive. There were two large white projection screens set high up, behind the dance space; I thought to myself, “Oh, great, a multimedia piece. That’s never been done.” Just when I was ready to mentally check myself out, I noticed a crackly, varnished, antique piano implanted with a small laptop-sized LCD screen. From afar, I could see that the screen was displaying music-playing software that I later learned assisted the pianists in distorting the timbre of the piano’s tones. The pianist, Sheldon B. Smith, provided a unique synergism between the analogical and digital I haven’t yet seen among a sea of poorly executed multimedia compositions. I had seen a piece a few years ago, "Random Generator," that Smith had danced and choreographed at CounterPulse, and I distinctly remember applauding the humor and simplicity of the work. With that said, though his back was to us, I could sense a humor in his playing that told me this piece wasn’t striving to be more than it was. The choreography was streamlined and eloquent. It wasn’t too difficult for the dancers, and some of them appeared quite natural with the physical vocabulary of the choreography. Overall, "Window" was the triumph of execution over hackneyed premise.
The final work of the night, “Softly In My Ear,” choreographed by Joe Goode, was—as anticipated—a crowd pleaser. Goode has a keen eye to making dance theater accessible to any audience with his usage of style and text. Maura Tang (also a dancer in this piece and two others) costumed the dancers expertly, blending casual fashion with movement-centered sensibilities, and in true Goode manner by using muted primary colors and khaki basics. Again, the music not only grounded the piece, but elevated the performance. Live dance music has a particular way of informing a performance, and the virtuosity of Joan Jeanrenaud, of Kronos Quartet notoriety, supplied a dazzling amount of breathing, organic pulse. The dancing in this piece, like the one prior, was also much cleaner than the first two. Though dancers embraced the satirical tone of the piece, much of the text delivery was miscalculated. There is a fine line between parody and replication. If the camp and kitsch aren’t carried out with deliberateness, the comedy falls flat and the audience only reads the copy, not the critique. Nonetheless, it was a bright and weightless pleasantry to end an evening peppered with flagrant faux pas.