Theresa Madaus is working on some new stuff.

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Theresa Madaus is 1/3 of the creative dance making troupe Mad King Thomas, originally birthed here in the Twin Cities, specifically Macalester College. Mad King Thomas is growing up, spreading wide, and one of the exciting up roots is Theresa Madaus creating as a soloist. I like her stuff.

I recently caught an episode of Cellular Cinema where Madaus showed an experiment with film. The film opened with a shot of Madaus in a lawn chair in a sort of winter Midwest back yard, presumably her backyard. Not long into the shot Theresa gets up and walks out of the scene. The camera shot stays the same as we listen to a voice, the narrator. Madaus seems to be playing with absence and narration in some of her new stuff.

On Wednesday March 25th at the 9×22 Dance Lab at the Bryant Lake Bowl (A forum devoted to choreographers showing their work and getting feedback) Theresa Madaus showed a new work in progress.

The piece began with an absence of performer as a female voice emerged and the narrator took us on what felt like a first person journey. She poses questions and describes emotions, it’s as if she is describing an experience you are having. It was fulfilling, I did not search for the absent performer, I was rooted in my own experience.

At times I have found myself critical of Mad King Thomas’s work for being heavy in text-based narratives and desiring more in–depth movement integration. Madaus’s new treatment of space has solved this problem for me. With the absence of performer while the dense text is being delivered, I was able to enter the work.

The Work –untitled

• Is a duet with choreographer and performer Megan Mayer. There is nothing really surprising or unlikely about this combo more like peas and carrots, it seems like we have seen this before. They are in the zone together throughout the performance as coordinated in their delivery as their navy blue and green patterned polka dot costumes.

• I was swept away with elements of romance; Megan performs a duet with the curtain as Theresa emerges up the stairs with a fan blowing her hair back. Megan, not to be out done, goes and gets a bigger fan. Romance is in the shadow dancing to the Bee Gee’s, bodies pressed together. There is always something slightly erotic about lip sync.

• Although the piece had started heavy in text, in the development there was an absence of narrative.

• The performance quality was deadpan, however, because of the full commitment of the performers there were glimmers of character that left me wondering…Damn, what are these two capable of?

• Their bodies remained up right, spines erect as they performed a tapping, stepping foot pattern, which included a fist pump, a pelvic thrust and a passé for good measure.

The Feedback

What’s exciting to me is that Theresa Madaus is emerging as a female-bodied choreographer working in the lexicon of queer performance, an area largely dominated by male bodies, historically including stalwarts like Bill T Jones, Lloyd Newson, and Keith Hennessy. I desired to hear the words ‘queer performance’ in Madaus’s description of her own work and maybe she did in fact claim the label I am now putting on the work but if so, it was meek. Over several of Madaus’ works you can see the elements of queer performance emerge like a hot dog phallus. Episodic in nature often with pop culture references and a good old fashion lip sync. Madaus is masterful in her non-subtle queer relationship to props; who could forget a year ago when she performed the character of a sexually frustrated lesbian nun chewing on a skittle rosary.

Theresa Madaus is working on some stuff and I like her stuff.

By April Sellers
Choreographer Theresa Madaus
Work in Progress at the 9×22 Dance Lab
March 25 2015

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