Dancing Grief Away

The 1997 Me & My Dad & TV is a deep, layered, talking-dancing-media odyssey into Dennis's past and his relationship with his father, who's present on one monitor as an intermittently talking head—smart, affable, with reserves of cantankerousness. Another monitor shows a video diary Dennis made over the course of 1994. On the big screen: family photos, home movies, assorted film and video clips. A teenage Dennis sports a Beatles wig and plays rock with his buddies at his mom's cocktail party. Young and lean, he dances around Europe with Byrd Hoffman's School for Byrds (Robert Wilson's group).

Dennis Jr.'s view of the events in his growing up wrangle with Dennis Sr.'s memories. The choreographer remembers a triumphant touchdown; his dad remembers only that his kid was knocked down. As for Wilson, Dad recalls that in Deafman Glance it took someone half an hour to pick up a glass of water, for God's sake. Predictably, the two don't have the same take on parental divorce either, or on the weekends when Dennis Sr. left his family and adventured on boats with cronies.

The choreographer regresses periodically to the disappointed or enthusiastic youth he was, and as a wryly affectionate adult pushing 50 talks back to a dad who's easily controlled by hands up in the booth where the technological magic and Jane Cox's fine lighting originate. Irritations and misunderstandings can't hide the wit and good humor of both men, and the warmth of their relationship. This father contributed "additional text" to the piece and sits proudly in the opening-night audience.


Limůn Dance Company
Joyce Theater
Through October 17

Charles Dennis
P.S. 122

The use of video in live performance can often seem gratuitous. Dennis cannily exploits its capacity to make memories visible and cause time to dance.

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