John Munger’s Third Rabbit Dance Ensemble

A common appearance at Patrick’s Cabaret, this ensemble takes this unique name from this anecdote, which John Munger relayed to me:

“One day, about thirty-five years ago, modern dance legend Hanya Holm addressed a technique class on the subject of focus. “If you chase two rabbits,” she said in her flavorful German accent, “you will catch neither.” Later that day she repeated the same proverb in composition class when a poorly-structured movement study flickered briefly to life. This quotable line has always delighted and inspired me, but it’s infuriating too because it articulates a lose-lose situation that many choreographers face–If you want to be taken seriously in the dance world, you have to chase the Dance Rabbit. The problem is that America does not support dance very enthusiastically, so you are forced also to chase the Money Rabbit. In other words, even if you dance at a serious level you probably have to make your living by some other means. That’s two rabbits.
                But I refuse to give up hope. There HAS to be a third, catchable rabbit!”

 The group itself, a fluid conglomeration of shifting members, got its name in 1993 after a show where Munger had a solo entitled ‘The Third Rabbit.’ (His first group was three women called the ‘Lady Bobcats,’ in 1989, who became part of a larger pickup group in 1991 that did one full-evening show. )

A dance blogger in addition to a dancer, Munger says, “I see over fifty shows a year and I focus especially on the new, the young, the experimental, the non-mainstream,the out-of fashion, the elder, the aesthetically diverse. To me, being a dance blogger instead of a professional reviewer means being a guerilla.” The most difficult aspect is to “be the kind of carefully selected and transparently cleaned window through which a newcomer to dance-watching can see and learn for themselves something about the work that they might not have known due to their own innocent inexperience.”

 This means keep his own preference and prejudices out of it, avoiding judgements like “I really liked..,” “I was unimpressed by..,” “good,” “bad,” “amateur,” “stunning,” etc. Instead he says that “I try to describe two things: a) What I saw and b) what it did to me. For example, I try not to say ‘this was boring’ and say instead ‘the persistent repetition of this movement task eventually lost me.’ Or conversely, ‘the persistent repetition of this movement task fascinated me because it contrasted with the frantic soloist’ rather than ‘the repetition was masterfully post-modern.’” A busy man–“I have a 40-hour/wk dayjob, I perform, I choreograph, I present a series at Bryant Lake Bowl called ‘The Rabbit Show,’ I teach at Zenon, and I have a wife, house, mother-in-law and four pets”–his blogging focuses especially on The Fringe. He will cover each and every one of its fifteen to twenty shows.

Come on down this weekend and have your “soul nourished by the experience of being taken somewhere you might not have taken yourself.”

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