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Baldocchino Gypsy Tent
Sunday, 7/14 3:00 p.m.
Thursday, 7/18 6:45 p.m.
Friday, 7/19 7:00 p.m.
Tuesday, 7/23 8:45 p.m.
Saturday, 7/27 2:30 p.m.
They say: Sexy, angry and funny, Pitchin’ the Tent: Tia Nina Live at Baldacchino is a mind-numbing, gender-mashing, rock-‘n-roll meltdown! Movement-based feminist rock band Tia Nina celebrates and deconstructs rock performance through sweaty, gritty dancing and original, surreal songs.
First off let’s deal with that “rock band” thing. Tia Nina is not really a rock band, in that whole lameass “reality” sense. Tia Nina IS, however, a pretty kick ass politically-minded dance theatre troupe portraying gender pronoun-eschewing fictional rock band “Tia Nina”, here to melt your face off with pleasures not so much musical as athletic.
The rest of the troupe’s self-description holds true, though. The “sweaty” and “gritty” were on especially ample display, with the trio’s energy never flagging in a never-stuffier new Baldacchino layout, which in Friday’s heat proved in desperate need of more ventilation. Like any good rock band the style matters as much as the substance, and the trio is well served by Deb Sivigny’s costumes, with each member distilling a genre from the past 50 years or so of stadium rock. The hippy-dippy 60’s (with maybe a touch of 70’s glam thrown in) are represented by the bell-bottomed Sammy Rain (Ilana Silverstein). There’s a lot of Mick Jagger in J. Van Stone (Leah Curran Moon), and tartan-clad Sticks (Lisi Stoessel) brings the vicious punk. The trio dances to mostly original music (on a recorded track) that ably conjures up the breakout genres of the recent past, with an emphasis on the heavy and the psychadelic.
The troupe’s dance technique is universally strong. Highlights include a well-shaped leg fingered like the world’s sexiest keytar, a round of mosh pit headbanging that puts the lie to the rebelliousness of socially expected chaos, and an Ozzy Osbourne-style inflatable goat buggering that will keep you off salad for a week. If there’s a breakout star here it’s Stoessel, with moves just a touch sharper and energy just a touch more radiant. A sexy, weird, anarchic treat, Pitchin’ The Tent sets the Fringiness bar by which I will judge the rest of this year’s festival.
(Disclosure: Sivigny and I have collaborated on projects in the past. This did not influence my review.)
See it if: You’re a contemporary dance fan and/or have used the pronoun “ou” recently.
Skip it if: The words “contemporary dance” make you itch, or you’re stuck on whole traditional gender norms thing. (There’s probably some overlap in those two groups.)