Friday, March 26, 2010

Body Vox: Smoke Soup, March 2010 (Grade C)

Artistic Directors Jamey Hampton & Ashley Roland
World Premiere of Smoke Soup

sez says: I love this dance troupe--so I am not ever happy to be critical of them. But their dancing in this show was uneven and so were the dances themselves. Hampton's opening Light No Lamp was just awkward--it was hard to see and it didn't work. Next All Blues Hail Mary--was slow to start and once it picked up interest it ended. SUIT ON A FRAME was the stuff we go to Body Vox to see, great choreography--and with a few more days of practice might have been one of the best in the show. "My Favorite Cage"--was almost embarrassing. But things did pick up from there. TRAMPOLINE was energetic and fun--and Melissa Kanavel had perfect poise, balancing action with a complete nonchalant relaxation as she got tossed around the room. Then came CIVILIANS--probably my favorite  --but again the dancers needed to be a little more  in sync.  Write My Book was entertaining and clever and Hello Stranger was full of fun energy.
After the intermission THE MAN I KEEP HID started things off right, with humor and all the right moves...but again with some dancers not being entirely in rhythm with the group. Another stand out in the second half was PROGRESS OF LOVE--which was sensuous and fun at the same time. STOP worked well and was spot-on in both execution and choreography--with Hampton hopping about with two mannequin types.  We'll Meet Again followed by Death to the Storm flowed together seamlessly -- but the second part seemed to need a larger space.   Finally Rough and Tumble has humor and style but the end number STARS didn't have enough oomph for the finale.

On the really positive side--the costumes were wonderful--and the music was well performed. I like Joe Henry's music, and I give credit for trying to use as the basis of the show--but I am not so sure it was a good decision. There are, after all, so many very great pieces of music to choose from.

Overall grade C

Saturday, March 6, 2010

39-Steps, Portland Center Stage (Grade A)

Director: Nancy Keystone
Adapted by Patrick Barlow from the novel by John Buchan and the Movie by Alfred Hitchcock and an original concept by Nobby Dimon and Simon Corble

Richard Hannay          .....           Leif Norby
Anabella/Margaret/Pamela   .....  Christine Calfas
MAN #1             .....                  Darius Pierce
MAN #2             .....                  Ebbe Roe Smith

sez says: This is fun, laugh out loud theater. It is full of purposely missed cues, intentionally broken props, fake knives, and jokes of all sorts flying around.  And while all four of the actors deserve praise the show belongs to MAN #1 and MAN #2 (Pierce and Smith) who are both exceptional talents. Pierce has become one of my favorite Portland based actors: he is fearless and brings just a hint of madness to his characters.  Smith--whom I'd not seen before--matches the deadpan mayhem that Pierce provides--with the delivery of a physical comedy that sent waves of laughter through the audience with a simple change in facial expression alone.  Of course you need the right vehicle for their talents --and 39 Steps is it.  The carrying on of these two never fell into madcap but never missed a beat in the requirement to shape-shift from one character to another and to keep the party fun all night long.   Norby too was well cast and fully engaged -- but  he didn't top Calfas performance -- whose training in Indian Classical Dance lends itself to her body-language that is both camp yet sensuous.

mjc says:  this was very fun, the kind of theater I like, lots of body stuff and dialogue to match.  RECOMMENDED - Grade A

Wayne McGregor, Random Dance, ENTITY, 2010 Whitebird Uncaged (Grade A)

Choreography: Wayne McGregor in collabpration with the dancers
Concept and Direction: Wayne McGregor
Dancers: Neil Fleming Brown, Catarina Carvalho, Agnes Lopez Rio, Pablo Mangiola, Daniela Neugebauer, Anna Nowak, Maxime Thomas, Antoine Vereecken, Jessica Wright
Original Music by Jody Talbot & Jon Hopkins


sez says-- what a wonder these dancers are --precision, perfection dexterity, seeking the edge of the the human body's capacity for altering and presenting itself--alone and in relation to other bodies.  These are world class dancers -- in control of their physical selves in a way that is seldom seen. Each time a dancer changed partners--or a new dancer entered into relationship with a pair of dancers, forming a triad,  a new 'entity' presented a new chemical combination --having something in common with the last combination but also being entirely new.  I was awe struck within minutes of the start --and with only a few exceptions--remained mesmerized throuhg the entire show--60 minutes --no intermissions. Thank you and thank you again --maybe I'll become a groupie and follow this troupe around--or at least, I'll be in the front of the line to get tickets to see them if they show up in this part of the world again.