The audience squeezed into every nook an cranny, stage and seat, on Saturday at Washington High School for the late night performance of Ten Tiny Dances, which turned 10 with this TBA.
The conceit is deceptively simple: 10 dancers perform 10 short works on a four-foot-by-four-foot stage. But the limitation of space, with the complete lack of limitation on form and imagination, create a difficult challenge. In the past, performances have rangeed from the surprisingly imaginative to the painfully bland, from the complex to the single gimmick, from pieces that may as well be performed anywhere to creative utilizations of the stage, from suspending it to chopping it to smithereens with an axe.
This year involved performers entirely new to the tiny stage, which resulted in a couple of exciting new twists. For the finale, Keith Hennessy confined himself to an even smaller stage (doing a headstand on a trembling water jug) before topping the former record of 12 people on stage by piling 15 on and climbing on top of the human haystakc.
But the inescapable highlight came from San Francisco performer Julie Phelps (in town to perform in Turbulence) who confused things with a frantic striptease down to granny panties (she wanted to seem vulnerable, she said), a speech about how she hadn't written a speech because she'd been too busy drinking, and then a game of "Snowball." It started with her setting up one couple slow dancing while she belted out Whitney Houston's "I Have Nothing." Then, every few seconds, she'd say, "snowball," and each dancer would have to find a new partner, until the entire audience was slow dancing. It was a tiny dance writ large, and likely a crowning moment of audience comaraderie for any festival.
Check out photos with descriptions of all the dancers below: