Best Commentary on Modern Technology by a Choreographer

Critics' Picks


Julia Rhoads

at Lucky Plush Productions

Choreographer Mark Morris, who admits he often “quotes” directly from work he loves, once went so far as to describe his process as a form of shoplifting. And his process isn’t unusual in the dance world—especially now that anyone anywhere can watch just about any performance that’s been captured to video. That’s no doubt what Julia Rhoads had in mind last October, when she unveiled her fast-paced, witty Punk Yankees—which dug into technology’s impact on the concept of intellectual property in dance—at the Dance Center of Columbia College.

The Web site stealthisdance.com, created months before the show went up, details all the issues, research, and outreach behind Rhoads’s work. First, in an online contest, she solicited choreographers to submit videos of their own work—and used the bit by the winner, Anna Normann, in Punk Yankees. Onstage, live tweets sent by audience members and performers were projected on a suspended screen. Web cams in onstage computers, one apiece for the performers, allowed them to interact virtually in projected live-feed video, Brady Bunch-talking-head style. Later the computers flashed a Kate Bush YouTube video, also projected, intercut with live-feed video of the Lucky Plush Productions dancers doing the same moves. Fundamentally paradoxical, tongue-in-cheek, subversive, and, best of all, great fun.