In sort of a serendipitous yet strangely apt series of events, I found out about Typecast Dance’s contemporary dance performance Missed Connections through the magic of the interwebs.
Prior to last Tuesday, I had never heard of the Typecast Dance company. In tweeting the link to a blog post that morning, I included the hashtag “#MissedConnections.” I suspect that one of the three users of the @TypecastDance Twitter account (Pamela, Nicole, and Matt) must have had a search going for uses of that hashtag as they promoted their show, since they very promptly retweeted the link to my post on Twitter.
Once I noticed their retweet, “@TypecastDance” and I began a bit of back-and-forth conversation, chatting about the relative merits of adorable vs. creepy or smutty Missed Connections. After taking a closer look at their Twitter profile, I realized they were actually performing a dance based on Missed Connections throughout the coming weekend!
In the long and intensive time I’ve been reading and researching Missed Connections, I’ve seen comedy videos, watercolour-and-ink drawings, comics, maps, and the like, all about Missed Connections. But a contemporary dance performance? That’s definitely a new one.
Of course, I had to see it. I think there must only be a handful or two of people anywhere who are as crazy about Missed Connections as I am (if you’re among them, we should talk). Not surprisingly, I was really thrilled at the prospect of seeing how someone else in this small group interprets this phenomenon, especially in such a visceral medium as dance.
In keeping with how I found out with the event, I tweeted on Saturday night that I was about to see a contemporary dance performance based on Missed Connections. One of Matt/Nicole/Pamela replied, “omg you made it!” I sent a direct message back stated where I was sitting and that we should say hello after the show.
Choreographer Pamela Rasbach did one better, coming to introduce herself at the intermission. She said that Matt had excitedly told her “@deptofhighfives is here!” This was the first time I’d ever been referred to by my Twitter name face-to-face, and I was definitely amused.
Pamela and I chatted for a few minutes. As it turned out, she used to be a Starbucks barista, and had herself been the subject of quite a few Missed Connections posts (although she said she has never replied to any). We remarked on our radically different approaches to sharing our respective passions for Missed Connections – academic papers vs. dance. It was fantastic to meet someone with a similarly quirky interest.
Now, as for the performance itself…
A caveat: I know little about dance, and particularly anything modern. I was a three-year-old ballet dropout. While I’ve gone see National Ballet performances several times since moving to Toronto, I lack any appropriate dance vocabulary beyond “plié.” So a great big advance apology to Pamela, her Typecast cofounders, and the remarkable and athletic dancers if I am less than eloquent in my description.
I was first taken with the sense of humour of the performance. At the outset, the vocals in the music seemed to be reading an MC post noting that the writer of the post was wearing mismatched socks. Fittingly, each of the seven dancers wore mismatched socks, along with their costume of shorts and unique vests. With respect to other sensory cues, the “metaframe” used as a backdrop and the electronic music gave the performance somewhat of a futuristic feel, reinforced by the occasionally robotic movements of the dancers.
Rasbach’s choreography in many ways reflected the asynchronous, start-and-stop, often abrupt nature of interpersonal communication leading up to and stemming from Missed Connections. In online Missed Connections posts, a writer’s attempt at interaction may not be seen or acknowledged by the subject of the message. Likewise, in this performance, the dancers moved in the same physical spaces, without making visual or emotional contact. That being said, I’m not entirely sure I would have grasped that the performance was inspired by Missed Connections if I went into it without that knowledge in advance.
My impression was that the first act (titled “Repeated Patterns of Human Beings”) emphasized the technological affordances of and barriers to communication, while the second act (“Specifically You and I”) illustrated the rare moments in which individuals come together and connect, albeit briefly.
In a sense, this reflected my own experience of finding out about, and seeing, this dance performance. If we use the plethora of internet and communication technologies available to us, it’s easy to go hours or days without connecting directly with a real person. Yet, without the active, passionate person participating on Twitter, I would have been unaware that this performance was happening. The gaps and bridges such technologies create between people are definitely fascinating to explore through dance.