Signs of Joe Goode in Chicago dance
Teachers, directors and choregraphers describe how the Bay Area dancemaker has helped them find their paths.
On one of the last days of the 1980s, Shirley Mordine received a videotape in the mail. Sent from San Francisco, it contained an early work by choreographer Joe Goode titled Disaster Series. Although Mordine, then director of the Dance Center of Columbia College, hails from the Bay Area, she had “never heard of this guy,” she recalls. “But I was totally enthralled.” Mordine invited Goode’s recently formed troupe to perform the piece in Chicago.
Goode, 59, and his company have visited regularly ever since; they’re here again Thursday 3 through Saturday 5. A list of his work’s hallmarks matches long-standing and prominent Chicago dance trends: Theatrical vignettes arranged more around tone than narrative. Spoken text. Cooperatively built, mutable movement phrases. A frank, offbeat sense of humor.
The how is no mystery—Dance Center residencies come standard with outreach activities for students, professionals and the public. Seven local dance artists help me with the why.
“Joe requires his performers to be triple threats—not in a cheesy, Broadway kind of way, but the modern version: technically trained dancers who look relaxed and fluid; eloquent speakers who embody what they represent in the work; and singers who can carry a tune, usually one that Joe’s composed in some way. I think that’s why his work is so accessible.” —Martha Mulligan, dancer and educator
“He asks, ‘What’s the best voice for each idea?’ So [his work is] more collage-like and evocative, with contemporary dance as the centralizing language. He sets up tension between all these things like text, film, movement…and that tension is so often fun, and funny.” —Julia Rhoads, director, Lucky Plush Productions
“He made a piece for us [dance] majors [at Loretto Heights College in Denver], which was a mind-blowing experience for me and the whole community.… Afterward, I moved to San Francisco and danced for Joe for 21 years. It wasn’t a pick-up company at all; it was, ‘You’re in this family.’”—Liz Burritt, founding member, Joe Goode Performance Group; choreographer; Dance Center faculty
“I’ve stolen directly from him, this attacking an idea from every possible angle, developing material that doesn’t necessarily fit together, colliding it all together and seeing what happens.” —LB
“Joe is a storyteller like no one I’ve ever met. He doesn’t do it from a pedestal. He looks you right in the eye.… I bring his ideas about authenticity, and how to connect in performance, to the studio every time [my company] rehearse[s].” —Margi Cole, director, the Dance COLEctive and Dance Center faculty
“I think what [former Goode collaborator Miguel] Gutierrez passed down to me is a sincerity in movement. The goal is to actually touch the audience.” —Movement and performance artist Marissa Perel
“I was directing rehearsal the other day and caught myself sitting exactly the way Joe used to sit, which used to drive me crazy. He’d sit slumped in his chair, legs crossed, hands over his face, fingers over his eyes, rocking his foot. You couldn’t read him.” —LB
“He gave me encouragement for making dances not based on any one formula or aesthetic.” —Winifred Haun, director, Winifred Haun & Dancers
“[In him] I found a comrade whose work was like a high-five with what I appreciated, valued and was trying to do.… It was a real confirmation of my thoughts about dance, that dance can be a part of theater.” —Shirley Mordine, Dance Center founder and Mordine & Co. Dance Theater director
Go to the source with Joe Goode Performance Group at the Dance Center of Columbia College Thursday 3 through Saturday 5.