three acts, two dancers, one radio host
Monica Bill Barnes, Anna Bass & Ira Glass
“…brainy, playful, taking pleasure in the warmth and awkwardness of human interaction”
- The New Yorker
Monica Bill Barnes & Company and Ira Glass, host of This American Life, have been working together to combine two art forms that – as Ira puts it – “have no business being together – dance and radio.” The result is a funny, lively and heartfelt evening of dance and stories that has brought down the house wherever it’s been performed, starting with its first test run at Carnegie Hall in 2013.
The show includes radio interviews restaged as dance pieces, plus stories from the lives of each of the three performers, Ira Glass, Monica Bill Barnes and Anna Bass. “What makes it work is a shared sensibility,” Glass says.
“As dancers, Monica and Anna are these amazingly relatable and funny storytellers without words.” Bass notes, “I think it’s still blowing Ira’s mind to see some of the radio pieces remade this way, with props and costume changes and lighting cues.” Barnes adds, “combining these art forms has led to a show that’s unlike anything I’ve ever choreographed before.”
As the title indicates, the show is in three acts. Act one is about the job of being a performer. Act two: falling in love and what it means to stay in love. Act three: nothing lasts forever. “People who like This American Life will probably like this,” says Glass “because it’s just like the radio show, um, if you picture dancing during all the stories.”
“What’s so wonderful about “Three Acts” is how unselfishly Glass managed to show, rather than tell, the relevance of dance in daily lives and how, without words, dancers communicate things that may take him an hour-long episode to say. And lucky them, they do it all without worrying about the FCC.”
-The Washington Post
“Ira Glass and the dancers have a similar sensibility— brainy, playful, taking pleasure in the warmth and awkwardness of human interaction.”
- The New Yorker
“To me, however, most revealing were the moments when he (Glass) danced. Few things expose a person's inner nature more than dancing, and watching him move alongside Barnes and her long-time collaborator Anna Bass showed off a boyish quality—as well as an earnest giddiness. He let down his sophisticated guard, and just allowed himself to be awkward. But best of all was how every time he finished a sequence of steps, a giant grin spread across his face. I couldn't help it: One spread across mine, too.”
Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host is made possible with support from The Dianne and Daniel Vapnek Family Fund, The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Jody and John Arnhold. This work was developed during a Choreographic Fellowship at the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography at Florida State University, and was also support through the Media Fellowship Initiative at MANCC.
This program is exclusively co-represented by Steven Barclay Agency and Pomegranate Arts.
Select photo credits David Bazemore, Mallory Lynn