Fredrick Winslow Taylor was a factory manager and the founder of scientific management. He was also known with grave cynicism as “the man who died with a stopwatch in his hand.” He would break a job into its component parts and measure each to the hundredth of a minute. It’s the kind of mechanical precision that delights robot-minded people and crushes the souls of the rest of us. Taylor wasn’t immune to criticism from his peers. Management theorist Henry Mintzberg called out Taylor’s obsession with efficiency for its high tendency to overlook less quantifiable social benefits.
What does this have to do with dance? For its annual gala concert Headwaters Dance Company shows a new piece featuring five dancers and one actor by New York choreographer Hilary Easton called “The Short Cut,” based on Winslow Taylor. The piece raises the question of what’s lost—and how we become dehumanized—when efficiency is the primary focus of worklife. The commissioned score is by Thomas Cabaniss for two pianos, string quartet and percussion, and original text by novelist Helen Schulman.
Other pieces you’ll see includes Seattleites Dana and Gaylen Hanson in “33 Fainting Spells,” and pieces by former Missoulian Felecia Maria and Headwaters Artistic Director Amy Ragsdale. Ragsdale’s piece, “Startling Intrusions,” combines Edward Gorey with Vivaldi to create a gothic world of silent onlookers. This is contemporary dance—and one of the few big shows Missoula gets all year. Expect some quirkiness and experimentation, acrobatics and, apparently, boxing. Time to forget about time managment, Winslow Taylor robots. Headwaters has a tendency to obliterate your expectations of what dance should be.
—Erika FredricksonHeadwaters Dance Co. Annual Gala Concert runs Thu., Jan. 31 through Sat., Feb. 2, at 7:30 PM nightly plus a Sat. matinee at 2 PM. at the MCT Center for the Performing Arts. $15/$10 students and senior citizens. Get tix at Rockin Rudy's, all Griztix outlets, on-line at griztix.