Wanted: An Elevator Spiel
So it is always a struggle to try to explain to people what it is we do...
When I tell people I'm a dancer and choreographer, I usually get a response something like, "Oh, do you watch 'So You Think You Can Dance'?" or "What kind of dance, like ballet? Tap? Jazz?"
This makes me laugh. And die a little inside.
And when I try to explain that it is not really any of these, and more like an amalgum of theater and dance, it only brings to mind musical theater or, God forbid, one woman asking if it was like liturgical dance.
I don't want to call it performance art (as that usually calls to mind cliches of naked people pissing onstage and throwing it at the audience or pouring chocolate on their bare breasts and having a lizard lick it off... both admirable activities, but not what we do). Saying we make theater suggests more narrative than we provide, and also, none of us really have theater training. Our identity is wrapped up in a history with dance, a dance community, and a dance sensibility, so while I feel happy for people to attach additional labels to what we do, I can't let go of the dance identifier. I feel better when I describe it as satiric or social commentary dance, though I'm not sure that's any clearer, and I always end up following it up with a description of that time I fellated a unicorn horn, or ate a tofu dog out of my own underwear. (Now it does sound like performance art!) So I've been trying to come up with a sentence that puts together the right randomness to give a messy but illuminating picture of what Mad King Thomas makes.
"It's like if you take a classical ballet, chop out the dancey parts with lots of people, put the everybody in gold lame and replaced their toeshoes with monster claws, then have them spout Oscar Wilde quotes while waving bananas to the music of Queen."
No? How about:
"Take one bad pop music video, throw in some post-modern posturing, insert random dialogue, pour on the irony, stir in plenty of irreverence a strong dose of anger, a hint of earnesty, and complete with a dash of sparkles."
Neither of these clearly encapsulates Mad King Thomas dances in a witty thrity-second speil that I can deliver to strangers at cocktail parties and in the elevator. I need help! Suggestions?