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[WATCH] American Dance Institute Presents: A Performance for Mankind

Melody Sahar-KhizBy Melody Sahar-Khiz on Jan 22, 2013 | Add a Comment Add a Comment (343)

[WATCH] American Dance Institute Presents: A Performance for Mankind

Jodi Melnick and David Neumann in their duet "July"

So, you never thought you could be blown away by a dance performance right in your own backyard?

Think again. Two of today’s wittiest choreographers, Jodi Melnick and David Neumann, throw the rulebook out the window for their upcoming show at the American Dance Institute on February 2nd and 3rd.

You may not have known about this hidden gem right nearby in Rockville, within walking distance of the metro and town square. A catalyst and proving grounds for the area’s most talented dancers, the American Dance Institute boasts performers that rival those of the professional New York dance scene.

Melnick and Neumann have the unique ability to take ordinary, human movements and give them depth that transcends the boundaries most have associated with the art of dance. Their performance is sure to dispel any of the audience’s preconceptions and will be a different experience for everyone that attends.

I myself am no dance aficionado, so fear not- you don’t need years of jazz and tap lessons to experience the full breadth of this performance. If you find yourself searching for some obscure, hidden meaning you think the artist is trying to convey, search no further than your own sensory perceptions.

In her self-choreographed piece Fanfare, Melnick entrances the audience with rhythmic choreography, but also with an innovative, luminous set designed by visual artist Burt Barr.

Bursting with enough energy and charisma to have every last person in the audience doubled over in laughter, the hysterical David Neumann performs his original solo Tough the Tough and proves that even awkwardly endearing, minimalistic actions can intrigue and resonate with an audience.

The New York Times describes their next piece, July, as a “restless, sensual duet that the pair [Jodi Melnick and David Neumann] choreographed and performed… together they said something quite remarkable about the ways in which we do and do not relate to our partners.”

I caught up with Melnick to gain some insight on her upcoming performance with Neumann and the artistic vision behind the pieces.

Q: Your upcoming show with Neumann consists of three different pieces. What are they and where did the inspiration for them come from?

Jodi Melnick: The first piece is a solo I made in 2009 called Fanfare, and it was in collaboration with the artist Burt Barr who makes a lot of video and art object installations. We had wanted to work together for a while, and I was really struck by his minimalist aesthetic, which I sort of share with him. The second piece is David’s solo, Tough the Tough, and then the third piece is called July, that David and I created. The movement is just two people who know each other: man-woman intimacy, brotherly, sisterly, motherly. That’s where the vision and sounds for it came from that we created together, which consists of haunting material from Nat King Cole, Bad Brains, and Yo La Tengo- sort of a mish-mashed score. The duet is very quirky, and intimate, and sensual, and it’s all those things between two people: a man and a woman.

Q: What would you label the type or genre of dance this performance falls under to somebody that isn’t familiar with the technical styles of dance?

JM: I would say modern/post-modern dance, contemporary, avant-garde, or experimental.

Q: Can you speak about more about your collaboration with Burt Barr?

JM: Burt is someone that I have known since the ‘90s. I was an admirer of the video work he has done, and I’ve worked as a performer for him a couple times. Even though my work is so flooded with the strong physicality, articulate nuance, gestural intent, I try to pair everything down to just what I feel is necessary. It’s amazing to be on stage with the beautiful objects that he makes, and this mammoth projection on the back that is very simple - just a fan - but it’s very haunting.

Q: Is there a unifying theme throughout these three pieces, or are they meant to be separate works?

JM: Separate works.

Q: And finally, what would you like the audience to take away from your performance?

JM: It’s never a concern that the audience takes away where my head is at in the performance. I’m just sort of there to offer experience. I hope they are willing to not get too intent on figuring out what I’m trying to portray, but sort of make their own assessment and be immersed in an environment of landscape. And then, they could form their own ideas or take away their own images- so as long as they are moved or feel inspired by something, but it doesn’t have to be something specific that I was thinking about.

Jodi Melnick and David Neumann perform on February 2nd at 7:30 p.m. and February 3rd at 2:00 p.m. at the American Dance Institute - 1570 East Jefferson Street Rockville, MD 20852. For tickets, you can purchase them online here. Discounted tickets here.

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