Review of “House of Matter” in the SF Bay Guardian

Review of “House of Matter” in the SF Bay Guardian

Many thanks for Rita Felciano for her thoughtful review of “House of Matter.” Check it out here:

The text is also pasted here:

“DANCE Anyone who watches dance — and perhaps any of the other arts — over a period of time will experience the excitement of discovery for one of two primary reasons. Proven choreographers may come up with fresh perspectives on who they are and what drives them. The voice may be familiar, but the

intonation is new. Or you can have a first encounter with an artist who pushes you right to the edge of your seat — the work’s ingredients are good, but it’s the way they interlock or bounce off each other that makes you look forward to what else this person will come up with in the future.

Such was the case with Nicole Klaymoon, who founded her Embodiment Project company in 2009. For her latest project, House of Matter (performed at Dance Mission Theater June 8-10), she collaborated with jazz singer Valerie Troutt and her vocal ensemble, also founded in 2009. The result was one of the most rocking, joyous dance theater pieces that have hit the town in a long time.

Klaymoon is a writer, social activist, poet, performer, and dancer who grounds her choreography in modern and “urban” (read: hip-hop) styles. Troutt, who created House‘s musical universe, calls what she does house music, though to my ears it sounded more jazz and soul-influenced. Dance-y, however, it is.

“The body as our home” is one of those post-structuralist tropes that academia has bequeathed on us. In her opening spoken and danced monologue about “wanting to let you in” but not daring to do so, Klaymoon didn’t push it. The image of the house did set the tone — not for a series of narratives, but stories nonetheless. Jennifer “JenAy” Anolin and Rama Mahesh Hall longingly yanked and confronted each and yet separated. Ndubuisi Madu, rooted in place, popped so violently it seemed his limbs might fall off. When during Solas B. Lalgee’s ecstatic vocal solo he embraced Assad Conley, the moment was both grand and intimate. I can’t pretend to have followed the details of Troutt’s song cycle, which started with “Make Me Ovah” and ended with “Peace Lives Here,” but House‘s trajectory from tension to reconciliation flowed seamlessly.

The finale looked a bit too protracted and flirted with sentimentality. But there was something so grand and operatic about this house that became a home that I couldn’t help but feeling pulled in.”