Dances With Vacuums

“Giraffe or Oyster?” asks the masked dancer. “Tales,” commands the sergeant, after flipping a coin. “No, Heads!” protests the dancer as she proceeds to assume the oyster position. At first glance, you may not think that this is dance. You may even feel a bit confused as to what on earth is going on. Then you realize: this is Antioch – organic, improvisational, and chaotic yet somehow orderly – it’s exactly as it should be.

The lights were kept at a dim setting in the South Gym Monday night for Antioch’s-a-Happenin’. Performers and viewers – encompassing students, faculty, alumni, community members, and locals – casually conversed while the performers imagined prospective movements to fill the space between the sparse pillars of structure.

The dancing that night was entirely non-traditional and 90 percent improvisational. In fact, the whole production only had about three hours of preparation. The oldest male dancer, a dance enthusiast from Columbus, learned of the event just a couple of days before and volunteered last second.

The first dance, the wave dance, underwhelmed me at first because all it consisted of was performers walking, running, and crawling forward and backward on stage. I judged too soon; it wasn’t too long before I witnessed a well-aged woman limbering quite elegantly throughout the space, followed by an interpretive vacuum duet dance, that for some unidentifiable reason made the entire audience giggly.

In another satisfyingly quirky act, the audience was asked to reduce their emotion vocabulary to sighs (depression), screams (panic), “oh no!”s (despair), “huh”s (cynicism), and “whatever”s (apathy). Then we essentially had a verbal drum circle, or beat-box orgy, with our new vocab.

Other dance performances included a wind-structure dance where each dancer took turns communicating with one another by moving into a shape and making a face at the people in the shape.

All of the dance pieces were, of course, serenaded not by pianos and long violin notes, but by cowbells, Congo drums, and the oddest trombone noises you’ve ever heard. Despite the weird sounds, the event was a happenin’. With an ample number of dance lovers willing to pay the five or ten dollar entrance fee, and splurge on “Save Antioch” merchandise, the event brought together a total of 200 dollars for the College Revival Fund.