Philadelphia Dispatch: No Face Performance Group’s THE TOP

Photo credit: Nikki Dodd

This is the Philly premiere of locally based No Face Performance Group’s THE TOP,  first shown at JACK in Brooklyn May 2016, and later that summer at Links Hall in Chicago. THE TOP was created by its performers: Melissa Krodman, Jaime Meseda, and Mark Mccloughan.

Mark walks on stage. He will smile and bounce to ‘The Top’ by Francis & The Lights.
Boom Chiki boom boom. Boom chicki boom boom. Boom chicki boom boom.
Boom chicki boom boom bap.

He has these beautiful claymation cheeks. His bashful eyebrows smile too.  

Mark is dribble-bouncing himself:
I am seeing the iPhone ghost faded into Mark’s jean pocket. We see each other.
He is seeing each one of us.

Some of the light fixtures, pointed all whichaway, are not plugged in. Mostly, it’s just the overhead house lights on. The same light on them and on us. If you sit in the back row of the audience, next to the sound technician, there’s enough space behind the risers, 6-8 feet, for someone to comfortably walk in and look over your shoulder.

Jaime’s here!
His bounce is more pelvis, a little thrusty.
More of a testicle toss.
Jaime’s bottom lip hangs. (If this makes him sound un-handsome, undo it.)

Insert: Shoulder move punctuating. Insert: Chin move escalating.
Sometimes: stopping on the beat.

There’s a long sustained synth build and a thunder crackle at the end of the track. Took me a few laps around to hear what I was feeling. The stretched string feeling.

We have so much time to get over it: the looking at and being looked at. There’s time for the sequential experience of watching. And the ping pong of sharing.

They are not neutral (boring) but natural. Reactive.

Mel, front and center. Mischief on her lips.
Her biceps and lats hold her up, like she’s on a coat hanger.
Her bounce is a hip crease fold. I realize Mark’s is more in his knees. Or maybe more a of a thoracic bend, below his ribcage.
Jamie’s left arm is tenser, shorter. Bent at elbow.
Before there was smize, there was that 1940’s Hollywood thing: Smolder. Mel does that.

Bounce style influencers: Mark, ponytail. Jaime, balls. Mel, tits.

Insert: hand on thigh. They are all wearing Nike’s. The LED lights overhead pivot without turning on, the sound of mechanical sunflowers.

Schonberg craftsmanship so on point.  
Intro to Choreography: (feel free to apply this information elsewhere)
SPACE: depth of field [check],  kinds of a/symmetry [check].
TIME: focus relative to us and to each other [check]
RHYTHM: visual and kinetic [check],
GRAVITY [check], presence [double check].
Dancing is bending the knees! A playful, disciplined, Africanist (?) workaround to the “where’s the dancing”. [So often, all that training with no seeing. No sharing.]

I am free to look around. Someone fell asleep. Also: head tilts, smirks, sighs, companionship. We as an audience are here together with them but not exactly together with each other. That’s the thing with binocular vision. I keep pulling back for a wider screen but can’t.

Later, the song doesn’t stick in my head.

I feel tired but friendly.


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