Forget dessert. How about a gilded ballroom full of body-based performances inspired by machines? That’s not what I had in mind when I went to dinner at The Gorbals in the lobby of the Alexandria Hotel, but the signs reading “Anatomy Riot” enticed some Engine 28 folks and me enough to wander upstairs into a vast ornate hall that could have been in Imperial Russia. I had stumbled into Show Box LA‘s performance series organized by Meg Wolfe and guest curated this evening by Lauren McCarthy and Megan Day Daalder. Sure, I was in town for theater, but I didn’t expect to find it here.
I joined the several dozen performance goers settling into chairs as Katie Ammons began writing on the wall upside down in a handstand with her heels covered in bandages and charcoal. She scraped squiggles on the walls for the duration of the eleven short performance works that followed, leaving smudges on the paint of the royal hall.
The experimental evening included “internet aware art” (offline art influenced by online conventions) with a smart dialog between Justin Streichman and Danielle Furman acting as a judge responsible for conducting name changes. Instead of a name change, Streichman requested a “refresh” of his current name, as one might refresh a web page. In DDR: Human Only Version, Megan May Daalder enacted several committed rounds of the video game Dance Dance Revolution deliberately stepping in patterns around a square. Increasing the tempo with each round, her body became the machine of jerky movement required to progress in the game.
Discovering this under-the-radar performance community in the ballroom makes this strange trip to dinner a reminder that theater is indeed everywhere – and that DDR is still a great game.
Originally published June 15, 2011 on the blog of Engine28.com.