phillip kraft

A studio shot from tEEth's "Make/Believe"/Photo: Patrick Weishampel

I hunted in vain for a specific through-line in “Make/Believe,” the new dance/theater piece that Portland-based tEEth premiered for White Bird’s Uncaged series Thursday night. Catherine Thomas’s preview quoted choreographer Angelle Hebert, who said that the meaning of the dance had evolved from “fantasy as a means to cope and survive (to) fantasy manipulating our world into how we want it to be.” I didn’t see that in the piece.

That didn’t stop me from liking “Make/Believe” quite a bit, though, so apparently my inability to articulate in 25 words or less what it was “about” didn’t bother me much. Why should it? Movement and sound usually communicate along paths that language doesn’t. The theatrical experience of “Make/Believe,” minute by minute, “means” lots of different things, and it “means” them in different ways to different observers, just because that’s the way art works.

“Make/Believe” combines movement (by Hebert), sound (by tEEth co-founder Phillip Kraft), four live microphones, four dancers and some inventive lighting design (Alex Gagne-Hawes) in a series of episodes. Some utilize the microphones and their cords extensively. Some have more to do with the light or the music. All demand that the dancers commit to enacting various difficult states — childlike frustration is a key one — and to invasions of each other’s faces and mouths by the hands of the other dancers and those microphones.

So, why did I like it so much?


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