By Bob Hicks
A long time ago Portland dancer and choreographer Jim McGinn worked deep inside the mine shafts running into the mountain near Leadville, Colorado. It was hard and dangerous work, claustrophobic and stultifying. He never forgot.
So he made a dance about it. His contemporary troupe TopShakeDance has been performing it at Conduit, and has two shows left: Friday and Saturday, May 24-25, 8 o’clock each night. I saw the show on Thursday night and posted this story, Jambin’ underground: TopShakeDance digs deep, on Oregon ArtsWatch.
I spent the evening, for the most part, simply feeling the interplay between performers and sound, concentrating on the essential musicality of dance, which often comes with stories attached but at its deepest level doesn’t really need them, because, like music, dance is essentially unexplainable. Only afterwards did I read the program notes and discover the story that inspired McGinn. In a way that was a good way to go, because it gave me two experiences: the first, essentially emotional and existential; the second, reflective and intellectual. Put ’em together and you get a sense of how the human animal works.
Chase Hamilton and Dana Detweiler in “Jamb.” Photo: Lauriel Schuman