by Chris Davis
There is a famous quotation variously credited to Martin Mull, Laurie Anderson, Steve Martin, Frank Zappa, Elvis Costello, Miles Davis, George Carlin, and a slew of other creative wits, but predating the lot of them: "Writing about music is like dancing about architecture." The line is generally invoked to discredit music critics, but it's really dancers who take the hardest hit. What's wrong with dancing about architecture? Why not respond sonically, poetically, or physically to the landscape, manmade or natural? It's a question a group of local dancers are asking as they prepare to perform "Trees: Dances and Odes for Tall Leafy Friends."
"Trees," is a series of short environmental works inspired by specific trees in Greenbelt Park on the banks of the Mississippi River. Contributing artists including Robin Salant, Anne J. Froning, Bethany Bak, Marianne Bell, Wayne M. Smith, and Sarah Ledbetter will use installation, improvisation, tap dance, storytelling, and a variety of mixed media to consider the life, shape, motion and sounds of trees.
Director Sarah Ledbetter has described “Trees” as “an irreverent love letter," although it was difficult to find much irreverence in a recent "open studio" work through of the piece. Even the most humorous work, which finds a group of tap dancing beatniks reciting sincere poetry, is infused with good old fashioned capital-R Romanticism.
"Trees" is a free event taking place Saturday, October 5 and Sunday, October 6 at 5:30 p.m. at the Mississippi Greenbelt Park on Mud Island.Attendees should park at the lot approximately 1 mile north of the Willis Ave (Harbor Town) bridge, where they will receive a program and beverages.