Review of "Meter, Beat and Feet'

By Kelly Luck

This is a year for artistic collaborations at the Fringe. We have already seen the “Words + Music” showcase involving the Coterie, UMKC, and the Lyric Opera. Now comes “Meter, Beat and Feet”, in which the River Cow Orchestra (a jazz ensemble specializing in improvisation) and the Kacico Dance Company create on-the-spot performances to poetry read out loud by their creators. The result is fascinating and, if somewhat varying, nevertheless worth a look.

The format is simple: a poet gets up and “cold reads” the poem, while dancers and musicians listen. Then, they read it again, the band improvising a musical number for it. One or more dancers provides accompaniment in motion, which may or may not follow the words, but tends to flow more with the music.

Naturally, the result in-process, unpolished, but it is no less compelling for that. Those who enjoy watching the process of creativity unfolding and flowering in front of them will certainly find a lot to see here.

The performance Sunday night had a group of six men, each reading two poems in rota. Each performance will have a different set of poets, so the show will be completely different each time. One can easily see this becoming a semi-regular thing, not just a “Fringe thing” to come round once a year. The poems, like the music and dance, vary somewhat in quality, but with a new selection every time, the possibility of spontaneous treasure is well worth the attention.

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