MINNEAPOLIS DANCER/CHOREOGRAPHER NON EDWARDS has long been a Fringe staple—often appearing in other people’s work. This year, with her 35-minute Fringe piece Non Edwards's Bob Fosse Makeover, she’s taken a minimalist, post-modern, and often-puzzling approach to Fosse, the iconic American actor, dancer and multi-award-winning musical theater choreographer and film director. When people think of Fosse, what comes to mind are “All That Jazz,” flash and sizzle, high energy and choreographic innovation, high kicks and jazz hands and finger snaps.
None of that appears in Edwards’ piece—except for the kicks, hands and snaps, used as punctuation. Instead, the dancers (all women) walk, hold out their arms horizontally, stand still, twitch or sashay their butts, and put their gold-colored robes off and on. They do these things slowly, one at a time, often doing nothing at all for several long minutes. They accumulate one movement, then a gesture—then shed them back to nothing.
They repeat this series, with little expression: Start to dance with legs and arms extended, shoulders tipping down and back. The music suddenly stops; the movement halts. Another series repeats. Inexplicably, a painting is moved around the stage. Two performers (one of them Edwards) laconically strip to their black bras and panties; re-dress in tights, heels and leotards; emotionlessly realize they’re at cross-purposes; strip to their undies again and put back on their gold tunics.
Is Edwards attempting to get at the essence of Fosse’s choreography, without the razzle-dazzle? Is she dissing what she finds to be extravagant, illusive, unreal? Hard to say -- the work is so obtuse in its simplicity. And, in the world of post-modern dance, all of the components of this “makeover”—the stillness, the repetition, the undressing and dressing, the lack of emotion or expression—have been done many, many times before.
There’s nothing new here. The piece can, at times, be excruciating—which, of course, may be Edwards’ intention. Nevertheless, the dancers perform Edwards’ stark delineations of Fosse’s choreographic gestures with precision. Their commitment to the work is unwavering.
For some, that’s enough.
Event links and information:
Non Edwards’ Bob Fosse Makeover is on stage at the Southern Theater, Minneapolis on Thursday (8/1), Saturday (8/3), Wednesday(8/7) , Thursday (8/8) and Saturday (8/10) of the Fringe Festival. For additional details and specific show times: http://www.fringefestival.org/2013/show/?id=2511
Check back on the homepage regularly throughout the Fringe Festival, August 1 - 11, for more short reviews on mnartists.org, sent in from our intrepid performance critics on the scene.
About the author: Camille LeFevre is a Twin Cities arts journalist and dance critic.