Three's the charm

Five performers slice through the air and land in animal-like poses. Elbows, arms, legs, and backs arch, crook, and ripple. No, it’s not The Lion King. It’s another kind of critter: Charlottesville’s own Zen Monkeys, a local dance collective, and they have revved up for a weekend of dance you won’t soon forget.
Perhaps you missed the New York dance duo Abby Crain and Miguel Guiterrez, or the three new pieces by the Washington-based company “This Body This Earth” when they appeared at the New Dance Space over the past two weekends. Never fear. You still have a chance to be part of the Third Annual Festival of Contemporary Dance and Improvisation.
According to Zap McConnell, a Zen Monkey herself and one of the festival’s organizers, this weekend will be packed with Zen Monkey energy. Past and current dancers will be in town to offer a mini-marathon of movement and special surprises.
The festival marks the seven-year anniversary of the New Dance Space, home of the Zen Monkey Project. “We want to celebrate the last seven years of performances before we go and explore new worlds,” McConnell says. To help with the rejoicing, the troupe has organized the three-weekend dance smorgasbord.
Crain and Guiterrez, whose work The New Yorker called “swift and always delicious,” opened the festivities two weeks ago. Last weekend was Jen Clark Stone’s “The Body, This Earth,” a series of pieces originally developed over a six-month period which played here several years ago.
Now the Monkeys have invited back a host of dancers for the grand finale. “It will be a crazy entertaining weekend,” McConnell predicts. Known for their penchant for experimentation and improvisation, the Zen Monkeys very well may be able to deliver on McConnell’s promise.

Join in the revelry Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. Shows begin each evening at the New Dance Space above Hamiltons’ Restaurant on the Downtown Mall at 8pm sharp. $8 tickets are available at the door or in advance at Spencer’s Music, Water St. 295-7856

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