Last weekend was a big one for dance with IONA’s Dominion at Hawaii Theatre, as well as the Red Bull BC One breakdancing competition held on Cooke Street.
I sprung for the cheapest seats up near the rafters for IONA’s Friday showing and picked them up at the theater in person. (Even with a student discount, they were pretty expensive.)
It was kind of interesting to watch a dance show from this vantage point, but it definitely was hard to connect to the movement. I ended up getting to check out the second half from great seats on the ground floor, and the two experiences were like night and day. The act was sprinkled with a series of monologues about modern super foods such as kale, beets, garlic and chocolate, that almost spoke as campaign speeches, as if these foods were to become the president of your soul.
Malia Yamamoto’s advocacy for wine was served with a bottle of red. She started out recommending two-and-a-half bottles every week, to that amount per day, before finally deciding upon two-and-a-half cases a week as perfect for optimum health.
Another scene featured a woman walking up to the mic seeming like she was going to give a speech, but then a man began scratching her head, gradually sending her into elation. A number set to Pink Martini’s French tune about not wanting to work featured a dozen or so girls in corsets and pleather skirts walking toy poodles in an over-the-top, burlesque-esque crowd pleaser.
But aside from broken eggs and light comedic elements, there was a powerful theme of the things that control our lives, from sexual desires, to our diet, pursuits of wealth or religion. In this regard, it felt like it was really two shows progressing in parallel, one taking place in a contemporary and literal world, the other in an archaic spiritual fantasy realm. There were extremely powerful moments, like when the 10-by-10 foot auto-paint gold cage that trapped Yamamoto exploded into pieces, or when mythological bird queen figures battled with their 12-foot wings. In fact, the entire finale was incredible, ending with an exodus into the heavens, made possible through ropes and background LED projections.
It was quite a dynamic shift to attend the raw warehouse breakdance competition after having seen such a high level of production, but it did not disappoint with some of the world’s top b-boys throwing down for a chance to compete at an international level. After seeing the caliber of expression that IONA’s work strived for, it was a stark contrast to see competitive dance with the end goal being to boast one’s superiority through showboating and bravado.
But, whatever. The audience was having a great time, and there were so many people there that the only way I could see the dancing was to look at the screens of the people’s cell phones held up over their heads taking video. It was a super exciting event and great to see dance be the center of focus like it sometimes deserves to be.