Five acts perform in Tower District at Mini Rogue Festival

The Mini Rogue Fest takes place in the back room of The Revue in Fresno’s Tower District. Friday, Sept. 7, 2018. Paige Gibbs/The Collegian

Five different acts were presented Friday through Sunday night exclusively in the back room of the Tower District’s The Revue coffee shop as apart of the Seattle-to-Fresno Mini Rogue Festival.

This festival was produced by Jayne Day, who has been involved with Rogue Fest since 2002, and Grant Knutson, who has been bringing performers from Seattle to Rogue Fest for many years from Minion productions.

There were multiple acts including a one -woman show, a clown show, and a music performance between siblings. All the acts were handpicked by Day and Knutson, including artists right in Fresno such as Fresno Dance Collective’s performance of “A Formal Feeling” that was haunting and refreshingly raw, and “Alice” a modern adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”, written and directed by Dakota Simpson from Simpson Theatricals.

NOCO’s modern dance was choreographed by Alexandra Tiscareno.

The 45-minute performance features six dancers and a total of 10 dances. It is described as an “exploration of constructing and deconstructing the idea of individuality in a group-think atmosphere.”

Standout performances by Aubrey Ludlow and Shelby Plaugher kept everyone’s gaze fixed while they told compelling stories visually. The emotion expressed on the dancers’ faces and the sheer exertion of performing for 45 minutes straight inspired the crowd.

Both dancers have solo performances in the piece and manage their stage presence well. Plaugher’s ability to act the part of being almost possessed, her body contorted in strange ways, jerking and seizing, is especially captivating.

Plaugher favors moving in a manner very similar to that of the “spider crawl” made famous by “The Grudge.” She slides and creeps along the floor in the last dance of Section 1, “infecting” her fellow dancers, causing them to shake and jerk as well, as she passes in front of them.

Plaugher’s flexibility and steady elongation of her legs and limbs in what looks humanly impossible was worth the $10 at the door for everyone.

The music accompanying the dancers is equally unnerving, adding to the horror atmosphere of the performance. In the second dance of Section 2, the song “Ocean” by Dirty Projectors featuring Bjork is quite jarring. It features minor tones and clashing harmonies that never resolve.

NOCO’s performance is engaging, frightening and everything a modern dance should be. The praises of Fresno’s local dance troupe cannot be sung enough.

Simpson Theatricals’ modern portrayal of “Alice” is hilarious and edgy. Before the Mini Rogue Fest, the show premiered in a backyard.

The show contained a cast of six performers, spouting adult content, and gender-bending many familiar roles. Along with the many modern references, there were small sections of audience participation keeping the audience engaged.

The festival as a whole was held in September ranging six months after last year’s Rogue Festival, and six months before next year’s which will be held in March.

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