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The Scarlet & Black

Performance group melds dance and theatre

The Joe Goode Performance Group melded dance and theater onstage in Roberts Theater. Photo by Chris Lee
The Joe Goode Performance Group melded dance and theater onstage in Roberts Theater. Photo by Chris Lee

Wearing a cowboy hat, Joe Goode began his performance of “Hush” last Wednesday, Feb. 11 by singing a song from the film “The Rambler.” It was the first of many unorthodox moves by Goode, as his cohort, the Joe Goode Performance Group, prides themselves on the unexpected.

“We usually start making a piece around a topic, and around that topic we create a lot of material,” Goode said, explaining the process behind the performance.

The San Francisco-based group uses a mixture of dance and theater to tell the story of a group of friends going through many different experiences. The show consisted of many separate dance and song pieces tied together through narrative, as issues of sexual assault, sexuality and general change were explored.

“It’s really about the things that we don’t say, the things that we feel like we’re not allowed to say,” Goode said.

Using different types of performance, Goode created an experience that engaged the audience and kept the performance exciting.

Rachel Bly, head of the Public Events Committee, was especially excited about how the issues presented by the group were relevant to conversations on campus.

“‘Hush’ is about the idea of being silenced, and then it brings in the silencer,” Bly said.

The storyline creates multiple perspectives, as the relationships onstage are dissected. This unique exploration of issues not only shows different viewpoints, but also shows how different forms of performance can be used to further these perspectives.

“The troupe interviewed lots and lots of people and picked out specific stories to then make real on the stage,” Bly said.

Although the audience was not made aware that the stories were true, this fact added depth and relevance to the performance.

When putting a dance together, the group chooses a specific topic and then builds the performance around it.

“We have massive amounts of material and then we try to comb through the material, seeing what is the narrative, what is the overarching idea that is running through this material,” Goode said.

The group then integrates the different forms of media to create a cohesive piece. Besides using multiple forms of performance, the group also includes a sound technician who creates the noises to emphasize the action seen onstage.

Goode and his group spent a few days on campus to teach and take part in dance classes with students.

“The opportunity to interact with students throughout the week is a really important aspect of why we bring a group and how we choose a group because we really want our students to get the most out of the visit,” Bly said.

For the group, this type of performance is common, as they travel to colleges and universities across the United States. “We’ve performed at the University of Iowa a couple times, so this isn’t our first time in Iowa, but it is our first time at Grinnell,” Goode said.

The Public Events Committee hopes that this performance will encourage students to take advantage of future events to explore different forms of art and performance.

“The idea is that you can come and you can go to these concerts and they’re accessible and they’re free and you can figure out what you like or don’t like,” Bly said.

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