I know next to nothing about Radiohead, dance, or jazz (sorry, dad). So why did I find myself at a show on Friday night that was pitched to me as, “a mash-up of Radiohead, jazz music, live dance, screen dance and projection design”? Well, because, who wouldn’t want to see that. Regardless of my thoughts on Radiohead, music is music. Even though I know nothing about dance, it’s always fun to watch. Jazz isn’t quite my thing but, like the Radio head comment– music is music. So there I was– in the familiar surrounding of Amsterdam Bar & Hall in Saint Paul but ready for something that was sure to be outside of the norm for me. I was excited, thrilled to be honest, and, out of all of the shows on the docket for this week, this was the one I was the most anxious for. No pressure though.
There was so much going on throughout the nearly hour-and-a-half long show from the music to the visuals all the way to the dancing. It was hard to catch it all so please bear with me as I try my best to lay this out in a somewhat organized manner.
Friday night’s performance of ‘Radiobody’ was put on by Rhythmically Speaking Dance. Rhythmically Speaking is a nonprofit dance organization based right here in the Twin Cities. They are one of those groups that absolutely deserves more of a spotlight than what they get but that’s beyond the point. Just reading through their website will give you a feel for this group. They are all about just making sure that everyone can “groove to a beat and should have opportunities to do so with others”. I mean, do I need to go on? I obviously am not going to sit here and just quote their site but, if you have a moment, I urge you to go through their mission statement and their super well written “about” section HERE! Long story short, this group is all about encouraging you to dance to music regarding of what kind of music that is or what the dancing looks like. As a closet kitchen dancer, I truly appreciated this and loved how this mission seemed to reign supreme throughout their performance on Friday night.
As mentioned, I know very little about dance so I’m sure a lot of what the talented humans on the stage and floor were doing was beyond me but I do know that I was completely captivated by all of them. Instead of fancy costumes, all of the dancers were wearing just normal clothes. Although all matching with muted colors (mostly khaki) and all with a furry vest on (which has some meaning but I honestly could not figure it out). Instead of intricate dance moves that have you wondering how they could physically do certain things, the dancers were doing moves that I would be spotted doing in my kitchen during one of my little afternoon pick-me-up dance parties. Everything about this group screams accessibility while still giving you a very professional feel. It’s truly an amazing things to witness and something that is so subtle but that you feel deep in your heart and soul.
I could try and speculate what the meaning behind each of the movements was or what part the fuzzy vests played in the interpretation of the Radiohead songs but that’s not what I took away from the show on Friday. My takeaway was just the amount of passion and heart that these dancers clearly had. It was clear that this group had practiced numerous times together yet there was something so organic about each movement from each dancer. Although I never met the dancers, I felt like I got to know them on a personal level just due to the movements they were showcasing throughout the night. Choreographed, sure, but there was something just so organic about everything happening and I loved that.
The music of the night was nine interpretations of Radiohead songs. Admittingly, I didn’t know any of the songs played. Maybe that was due to my lack of knowledge when it comes to Radiohead or maybe it was because of the abstract jazziness that the players brought to the songs but that’s neither here nor there. Although it was all eyes on the dancers throughout the evening, there is no denying that this show wouldn’t be half of what it was without the four amazing musicians. They let the dancers take the spotlight yet refused to be ignored. I really appreciated the fact that there were moments throughout the evening where the dancers would take a break leaving just the four-piece band on stage to shine in all of their glory. They were small moments but I think just helped show how deep the appreciation goes in this group not only throughout the dancers, but throughout everyone involved in the magic.
Not only was it dancing and music, there was screen dancing and other visuals playing on a screen at the back of the stage throughout the show. The visuals were cool and definitely added some cool lighting and shadow play on the dancers but it was the screendancing and the mirroring of said screendance that really caught me. Don’t worry– I didn’t know what screendancing was either but, it was laid out perfectly in the playbill handed out prior to the show. Basically, as a response to the pandemic, this group decided to go out in the middle of nowhere in winter and record some dances. They utilized these in the live show in a perfect way. Those screendances would play behind the stage while dancers would take turns mirroring the movements. It added a sense of depth to the show that, in retrospect was so simple, but was a truly stunning visual effect.
I feel like this review is all over the place and I truly apologize. I am just lost for words on what I experienced on Friday night. It was so different from what I typically do but left me absolutely stunned. I’m not going to be changing my name to Girl at the Dance Shows or anything like that but I will absolutely be catching all of the Rhythmically Speaking events that I possibly can from here on out and I encourage you to do the same.
I don’t typically do this but, as mentioned, Rhythmically Speaking is a non-profit. If you have the means, I truly hope you consider donating to them so they can continue to bring their magic to stages across the city. You can donate to them HERE!
Leave a Reply