At a Panama City, Florida school board meeting in December 2010, a mentally ill man barged in and held board members hostage for six and a half minutes. One grandmotherly-looking woman tried to disarm the gunman, Clay Allen Duke, with her handbag. Duke died. Everyone else lived.
This isn't an event I thought I'd ever see translated into dance but Dayna Hanson's new piece at On the Boards, The Clay Duke, goes there and from what I can see in the rehearsal video above (which is also six and a half minutes), she does an damn amazing job of it. In the video, Hanson explains the foundations of the piece: "It's inspired by the [shootings] and combined with studies of Checkov and how he treated suicide in his dramatic writing as well as looking at the Death Wish films from the 1970s." This is heavy shit but pull-offable if Hanson's track record is any indication, and she's well-backed by big-time Seattle artists Wade Madson, Sarah Rudinoff, Dave Proscia, and Peggy Piacenza, as well as Thomas Graves of the Austin-based ensemble Rude Mechs. The piece combines the group's massive amount of research, dance, music, singing, and lots of cool experimental-theaterish stuff (there's a pet carrier in the rehearsal video—please, please let there be a dog in this piece. I've always wanted to see a dog in a dance performance).
Instead of going home to weep into a bottle of gin after The Clay Duke, head down to OtB's post-show salon for a screening of their first-ever Instagram Dance Film Contest for 15 Second Dance Films.
Better yet, make your own dance film before December 5th and watch yourself shake it on the big screen! "Dance film," says organizer Jim Kent, "is a fun way to experiment with a new genre for people not experienced in film or dance (or either!)." What's a dance film? It's just 15 seconds of someone or someones or somethings dancing. This quick clip by Dayna Hanson is simple (but somehow still very heavy): a pair of Mary Poppins- style shoes scrape around on a damp sidewalk as she turns, freezes, and stares straight into the camera. Somewhere a dog barks and then it's over—like a short encounter on the street that will stick in your head all day long. If I had the time I'd station a person in every window of my high-rise office building and have them do the Monster Mash while I filmed it from the roof of across the street. But I don't, so I shan't, but hey! There's your free idea.
Dayna Hanson's show runs December 5-8, details are here. The FREE film screening will start a few minutes after 10 on December 7—you do not need a ticket to Dayna Hanson's show to get in. More info on the screening here. If you'd like to steal my idea and make a dance film, here's a poster with all the details: