2007 Quarryography Astounds
Mac Herrling, former IHT Executive Director
Where else can an excavator upstage a dance troupe?
Only in the region’s most unique collaboration between a land trust, an
arts organization, a quarry, and a machine artist.
Full of surprises, this year’s four, full-scale Quarryography dance performances
wowed over 1600 enthusiasts at IHT’s Settlement Quarry against a backdrop
of perfect Maine summer weather. That is not a misprint- the show averaged over
400 people a night around the quarry rim.
Stage Manager Katt Lissard,
Choreographer Mia Kanazawa,
House Manager Karen Galella
and Director and Choreographer
Alison Chase react to a great moment in Quarryography.
Photo by Mac Herrling
Choreographers Alison Chase and Mia Kanazawa masterfully wove together a bravura
of puppetry, flying dancers, Caribbean music, and moments of pure joy and banditry
that had the audience cheering and applauding far past an exquisite climax.
The machine artist in question is Rick Weed of Deer Isle and his Mark III, Belco
Excavator. Weed’s incredible dexterity with a two-ton leviathan has been
honed with Championships scored at Backhoe Rodeos over the last decade. Competitors
must excel at events like Backhoe Bowling, Backhoe Basketball, and Egg in the
Nest. For the latter, the operator must pick up an egg from a sand pile and gently
place it into a straw “nest” inside a tire. It is exactly this virtuosity
that provided the possibilities for the production. Weed’s finesse gave
dancers the confidence to crawl inside a bouncing bucket, drape their bodies
over his machine, hang from wrist straps 40 feet above the quarry surface, and
lie still as steel teeth slid toward them.
After a rollicking entrance by The Rock ‘n Steel Band led by Nigel Chase
and the community ensemble, Weed deposited Cable Man and his animator (Matt Kent)
deftly at center stage. Cable Man comes to life with help from four, black-clad
puppeteers (Piari Weiss, Sarah O’Malley, Andrea deFrancesco, Scott Springer)
in time to spark a romance with Pink Granite Sprite (Stephanie Fungsang).
Photo by Jeffrey Klofft
swoops onto the stage in a pink dress and gray “granite” hat. Fungsang
and Cable Man commune with Spruce Trees and Milkweeds as they enjoy a full courtship
capped by a hug six feet off the ground. Weed returns with delightful Hot Pink
Granite dancers (Breanna Gribble, Emily Kent, Rebecca Anderson Darling, Wendee
Rogerson, Twanda Chabikwa, Jessica Bindig) riding the Belco like a yellow elephant.
In Madonna shades and fluorescent outfits, the dancers – guest artists
from around the country and world – provide a lithe counterpoint to the
gritty granite-scape. They swing in unison or in couplets and rise briefly
before alighting to rhumba and swing dance around the stage.
by Mac Herrling
Just as Cableman and his Sprite settle into a prone reverie, a chainsaw sounds
from the cliffs and in roars Bad Seed Jason Weed on his four-wheeler with fellow
hombre Mary Barnes (wielding a chainsaw with a faux blade).
While Weed does “donuts” in
a blaze of gravel and menaces the crowd, Barnes proceeds to terrorize and beat
up Cable Man and his assistants while Sprite makes a get-away.
With her black
tutu and bad attitude, Barnes is the Anti-Dancer. She and Weed make a triumphal
and noisy exit to a cascade of jeers and boos from the crowd.
When the Dancing Excavator returns with the Dance Corps and the Sprite, they
reanimate Cable Man and an extravaganza of dancing begins anew. When the Bad
Seeds return amid a flurry of beer cans, Cable Man and his supporters knock them
down with help from Milkweeds now wielding chunks of “granite.” Kent
soars 30 feet above the stage at the apogee of the Excavator’s reach. Chabikwra
lifts Hot Pink dancers and contorts himself from the flying bucket. A beribboned
Cable Man swings in a full arc as the centrifuge of a crescendo of sound and
movement in the finale.
I cannot say enough about the band. Chase does a great job with a young, savvy,
snail-helmeted ensemble. Their Calypso-inspired, Zydeco-infused sound delivers
a landscape of sweetness that sets the tone and provides the musical foil for
the entire production. This tiny band emits a grinding, lilting, booming repertoire
that creates a remarkable ambience.
Although it appears Alison and Mia are taking a break next year, we look forward
to many more of their creations in the Quarry’s amphitheatre.
by Jeffrey Kloff
In Support of Quarryography
None of Quarryography would be have been possible
hard-working volunteers and staff from IHT and the Opera House.
My thanks especially to IHT volunteers: Pat and Ron Gross, Ken and Marnie Reed
Crowell, Michelle Dur, Jo Anne Greiwe, Mark and Sue Bradford, Carolyn and Kristin
Eberdt, Joe and Elke Dorr, Ann Hooke, Bill Haviland, Jim and Gail Plotts, Wendy
Schweikert, Tom Mehalic, Carol Carter and her family, and Jon and Lynn Braff.
Major Kudos to Linda Nelson, Carol Estey, Judith Jerome, Karen Galella, Katt
Lissard, Flax Hermes and her Shuttle Crews(!),Wayne Merritt, Mark Kindschi,Liz
Alley, and all the countless others who helped make this production a smash!
Community Performers (Milkweeds, Trees, and Bad Seeds!):
Mary Barnes, Whitney Davis, Kim Drasler, Asia Keene Eaton, Lawrence Estey, Amy
Friedell, Adam Groves, Erlynne Kitagawa, Jennifer Lee Morrow, Brendan Murray,
Sarah Paget, Jennifer Trowbridge, Tracy Van Buskirk, Jason Weed, Alice Wilkinson.
Band members: Nigel Chase, Francis Chase, Samantha Haskell, Oliver Chase, Alex
Pfister, Duncan Hardy, Jaimie Allen, Morgan Springer, Ben Fox, Martin Lonty,
Same Guilford, Matt Meaney, Charlie Sichterman, Rachel MacArthur.