Although the piece is mostly improvisational and includes many diverse dance styles, there is some structure. Each dancer is expected to contribute a ninety-second spoken-word storytelling segment followed by a sixteen-count movement phrase and then collaborate with three other dancers. Occasionally dancers may also have to follow directions given via notes read aloud onstage. Although unusual, the storytelling has garnered the most accolades from critics and audience members. At previous performances, the tales have ranged from humorous stories of being gypped by touring performers to touching recollections of studying under and working with the giants of twentieth-century dance. Certainly the importance of preserving the otherwise lost anecdotes and connecting these generations with those long gone does not go unnoticed.
The success of these original performances was so great that Croll and Cunningham decided to present shows in other cities; they realized these "out-of-town" performances could incorporate the local history, rhythm, and dancers while still being part of the larger historical picture. Indeed, wherever Horse's Mouth plays (now numbering more than two dozen performances), dancers of all ages clamor to be invited to participate alongside the few token New Yorkers who fly in to tie the piece together with the previous presentations. What's more, the shows have inspired both young and retired dancers to create new pieces for themselves.
The local version of From the Horse's Mouth is organized by Tigertail Productions, which celebrated its 25th year of operation this past autumn. For tonight's event, Tigertail's invite list includes Helena Alonso, Dale Andree, Thomas Armour, Freddick Bratcher, Diane Brownholtz, Mariana Alvarez-Brake, Arthur Curtis, Corky Dozier, Gerard Ebitz, Elena Garcia, Billy Kirpich, Katherine Kramer, Daniel Lewis, Louines and Lucrece Louisdhon, Madhavi Menon, Leslie Neal, Michael O'Hara, Pedro Pablo Peña, Yanis Pikieris, Renee Rich, Karen Stewart, Rosario Suarez, Helena Thevenot, and Neri Torres. -- Margaret Griffis