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So Good It Hurts 

The Joe Goode dance/theater group explores the connection between mind and body

Wednesday, May 30 2001
Dance/theater maker Joe Goode has big teeth, long, hairy legs, and a voice as smooth as Baileys Irish Cream. When he puts his lanky body in a short, flouncy dress and smiles his snaky smile, the ambiguity of gender never seemed so clear -- or so funny. And when he dons a cowboy hat and chaps you think, "Hey, he even looks like John Wayne!" This cowboy, though, loves other boys, and for 15 years he has been investigating in dance and words what it means to be male and gay -- and what, in the end, is true and real.

But Goode, who directs the Joe Goode Performance Group, rarely has answers; it's the questions that interest him. For his current show, the recently appointed UC Berkeley drama department professor has asked himself what the body, with its reptilian brain and its fleeting sensations of the divine, knows. What special understanding does the body have that eludes the mind? For his material he draws on experiences directed by intuition rather than intellect.

He calls the show What the Body Knows, and tonight through Sunday Goode and his tribe of seven dancers begin their work outside, free and open to the public, in the Yerba Buena Gardens. The installation is comprised of an array of small stories and takes place in collaboration with videographer Doug Rosenberg, composer Beth Custer, and lighting designer Jack Carpenter. Goode then lures the paying part of the audience inside, where What the Body Knows continues (along with retooled versions of Hapless and Take Place).

Story links it all. Hapless is a small gem about freedom and memory and a floaty, flighty girl. Take Place grapples with the human need for a place in the world. Few images capture the loneliness of human rootlessness as well as the beautiful, bare willow branches sprouting from the dancers' backs, as though they were trees with no place to root. As Goode demonstrates, even the body knows that it needs a home.

About The Author

Ann Murphy


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