1974 – Evening length performance – nostalgia coupled with absurdity – emotional gestures combined and exaggerated revealing insanity of personal emotional gestures. Yesterday’s Garlands and Yesterday’s Kisses (18 min of a 45 minute dance), created and performed November 1, 1974 by Maida Withers Dance Construction Company, and staged again in Dorothy Betts Marvin Theatre June 3, 1975 as part of the three-week GW Summer Dance Workshop performance. The original music is by John Driscoll playing miniature musical sound objects visible to the audience. Dee Kohanna performed jazz vocal improvisations on stage and in an orange chair hung above the stage (no legs on the office chair painted orange and strung with 3 rope making a triangle.
Sequence of choreography (see notes in the choreography file): John Bailey Chair Solo; Dancers building “towers” with vocalist on chair without legs suspended in the air; male/female duet on chairs; male/female duet dressing and undressing on stools; group expression of emotional gestures (only one duet and group segment on video).
For the second cast, costume design was by Beth Burkhardt. Her idea was to exaggerate the body of each cast member : Baily – grey and brown wrestlers outfit; Book, Charlie Chaplin baggy pants and tight white top with small bow; Maida grey unitard with low plunging neckline and red flounce with low ut “V” to the breasts. Emily, gold leotard and arms length black gloves; JoAnn salmon full pants to exaggerate her hips with a small tight maroon top. Light design was by Bill Demull,
See the news release of original performance 11/1/1974 and noted information on summer dance workshop flyer in 1975.
The work is built on unconventional ideas such as undressing on stage on a stool while thinking about other things (intended to break the sexual aspect of undressing) along with stereotypical emotional gestures of silent theatre and melodrama (wringing hands, hands pounding the heart, wiping the forehead, biting nails, etc). The dance was originally in two parts. Each dancer has a very small solo that is accompanied by the group. Dancers have choices as to what they do during some of the solos. John Driscoll provided the sound/music with found objects and nonsensical sounds of a plastic tube whirring, a collapsible toy cow that moos, and some electronics. This came from a period of artists leaving the tradition of modern dance and creating a new world of movement and choices by dancers during the performance. Concept by Maida Withers; dancers/choreographers include Brook Andrews, John Bailey, JoAnne Sellars, Liz Lerman and Maida Withers; Vocal Improvisations: Dee Kohanna.
The dance has distinctive dada-like characteristics.
The second cast in the 70s included Maida Withers, Brook Andrews, John Bailey, JoAnne Sellars, Emily Burken.
For the 1984 reconstruction in building K in preparation for a lecture demonstration the dancers were Brook Andrews, Lilian Fortna, Larry Graves, Susan Short, Stephanie Simmons. This version was not successful.
A 15 minute segment of Yesterday’s Garlands and Yesterday’s Kisses was performed on GW’s 2013 Fall DanceWorks concert in Dorothy Betts Marvin Theatre November 14, 15, 16, 2013 with John Driscoll performing music live. Dancers include: Ian Cecceralli, Ben Sanders, Catherine McCormack , Rebecca Melvin, Nicole Calameta.
What the press is saying
"Yesterday's Garlands and Yesterday's Kissed" (1974) relied on theatrical devices and campy humor, with a physically and emotionally frenetic duet for Miss Withers and Brook Andrews. The dramatic tableau dominated over movement in "Duet on Stools." Susan Jamieson and John Bailey stoof on isolated stools in lonbely spotlights and peeled off layers of clothing, accompanied by the suggestive dialogue of daytime soap opera." Julie Van Camp
"... high energy work with wit and vigor..." ?
Artists and Collaborators
- DanceWorks, Dorothy Betts Marvin Theatre(map) on November 14, 2013