Pivot Arts Festival Presents Brittany Harlin in DON’T FORGET YOUR MOTHER Review – Performance as Conversation

A bassist and saxophonist pump tunes into the atmosphere of the Edge Theatre to start off Brittany Harlin’s Don’t Forget Your Mother. The audience sits and takes in these musicians, silhouettes in the red light, sitting beside a table with two jugs of sangria, a bouquet of flowers, and a box. Their notes jump around each other while a produced track pulses through the room. This combination of prerecorded track and live instrumentals stays constant throughout the night.

Pivot Arts DON'T FORGET YOUR MOTHER

The lights change to a new bright hue, and we see a dancer emerge. He’s a breaker, a type of urban dance that involves flowing in and out of the floor and a playfulness with rhythms of the music accompanying him. He glides his way off stage, and another dancer glides on stage.

 This dancer is a popper, another type of urban dance where the dancer pops his muscles, moving robotically and meticulously, with minute detail. We recognize colloquial gestures that are syncopated and broken up, popped out of the body.

Pivot Arts DON'T FORGET YOUR MOTHER

Entrances and exits are significant in this conversational piece. With the movement stemming from urban dance styles, this is how the dancers communicate when it’s their turn to take the stage. This style of movement is typically done in a cypher or battle or party setting, where the audience surrounds the performers in a tight circle, so it’s intriguing to see these dancers move on a proscenium stage, somewhat separated from the audience members. However, their presence and coexistence on stage felt like an organic connection. We feel like we are still a part of these intricate, revealing conversations.

Pivot Arts DON'T FORGET YOUR MOTHER

Harlin steps onto the stage, too, popping with one of the other dancers. She then takes a post in the corner alongside the musicians, joining in the accompaniment using her voice as poetry and song. She fills in the music with heartfelt, personal stories.

Pivot Arts Gives Us a Fish-Eye Lens on Harlin’s Dream Sequence

At times, it feels like these performers, dancers and musicians alike, exist on a cloud, in a dream, in a memory, in their own reality that we get to see through a fish-eye lens. We feel engaged in their process, but also as if we are witnessing their conversations from afar.

The lights change to different hues throughout the piece alongside changes in the music. The story flowed through different stages, but always with a constant pulse of the drums.

Pivot Arts DON'T FORGET YOUR MOTHER

The lights change to a new bright hue, and we see a dancer emerge. He’s a breaker, a type of urban dance that involves flowing in and out of the floor and a playfulness with rhythms of the music accompanying him. He glides his way off stage, and another dancer glides on stage.

 This dancer is a popper, another type of urban dance where the dancer pops his muscles, moving robotically and meticulously, with minute detail. We recognize colloquial gestures that are syncopated and broken up, popped out of the body.

Pivot Arts DON'T FORGET YOUR MOTHER

The conversations naturally fade as Harlin pours some glasses of sangria, sharing this delight with her fellow performers and audience members. She spreads the joy of connection with this simple gesture, with a smile wide across her face. This is tradition, this is ritual. These conversations fill the atmosphere with history and life as something to be remembered forever.

Pivot Arts DON'T FORGET YOUR MOTHER
Pivot Arts DON'T FORGET YOUR MOTHER
Pivot Arts DON'T FORGET YOUR MOTHER
Pivot Arts DON'T FORGET YOUR MOTHER
Pivot Arts DON'T FORGET YOUR MOTHER
Pivot Arts DON'T FORGET YOUR MOTHER
Pivot Arts DON'T FORGET YOUR MOTHER
Pivot Arts DON'T FORGET YOUR MOTHER
Pivot Arts DON'T FORGET YOUR MOTHER
Pivot Arts DON'T FORGET YOUR MOTHER
Pivot Arts DON'T FORGET YOUR MOTHER
Pivot Arts DON'T FORGET YOUR MOTHER
Pivot Arts DON'T FORGET YOUR MOTHER
Pivot Arts DON'T FORGET YOUR MOTHER
Pivot Arts DON'T FORGET YOUR MOTHER
Pivot Arts DON'T FORGET YOUR MOTHER

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Collaborators on June 6 include: Boyan Matsapola (bass), Kenneth Leftridge (Saxophone/ Flute), and dancers Brandon Dorsey, Sid Tucky, and Nicholas Sapp

Collaborators on June 8 include: Boyan Matsapola (bass), Page Kallop (Guitar), and dancers Jordan Ordonez, Sid Tucky, and Nicholas Sapp

For more about Brittany Harlin, visit ____ and also read stories about dance and culture by Brittany Harlin on Picture this Post.­­­­­­­­­

Click here to read more stories about the Pivot Arts Festival 2019 now concluded.

Editor’s Note and full disclosure.  Brittany Harlin is one of many leading dance talents in Chicago and New York who have contributed to the Picture this Post series—CHOREOGRAPHERS’ EYES- DANCERS EXPLAIN DANCE, as has this reviewer, Sarah Stearn.  They have not had a direct professional connection, to date.

Photos by William Frederking

Read more dance reviews by Sarah Stearn and other dancers in the Picture This Post Round-Up, “Choreographers’ Eyes - Dancers Explain Dance”.  Watch this video preview of the story here—

 

Sarah Stearn

About Author:

Sarah Stearn, a native of Chicago, is a dancer and videographer. She has recently graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a BFA in Dance, and is excited to be back in the city. Currently, she works with Tuli Bera as an administrator for J e l l o Performance Series.

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