Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A room with a bad view.

What’s “outside Blake's window?” A bit of a mess if you trust Tandy Beal and Repertory Dance Theater (RDT). Outside Blake's Window was the most recent offering from RDT. The work, choreographed by Ms. Beal, delves into the imaginative world of William Blake and calls “forth the amalgamation of many theatrical forms.” The result is disjointed, uneven, and sometimes downright boring.

There are several valuable lessons one can learn from the performance:

1. Modern dancers aren’t necessarily actors. I’m baffled by the current trend of asking contemporary dancers to deliver lines. I don’t know of many respected contemporary dance companies that hire dancers based on acting ability. Contemporary dancers are first and foremost dancers. Go to Broadway if you’re looking for a “triple threat.” Because when dancers recite lines, it usually just distracts from the performance.

2. In the age of the super circus, second rate circus performances just don’t cut it. Sure the trapeze artist had amazing flexibility, but hang a women from the ceiling in silver spandex and I expect thrills. Here, the result was more distraction than performance enhancement. And while the fire twirler provided an interesting visual, the act just fall flat. The best part was the smell of burnt chemicals that lingered in the theater after the flames were extinguished.

3. People who aren’t dancers might not be able to dance. Don’t get me wrong, the idea is alluring; eight or ten sets of identical twins entering the stage and performing with dancers sounds like a great idea. But in practice, finding identical twins that can move was obviously impossible. Many of the twins moved so stiffly, so unconvincingly that I’m still wondering if they were real or automatons.

I will admit that Ms. Beal offered several moments of beautiful choreography, particularly when she left theatrics behind and focused on dance. She is at her best when devising lyrical movements for the dancers. Sections where dancers gracefully spun and swirled were not only well choreographed but also beautifully performed by the company. These moments reminded me that I’ll definitely be back to see what RDT does next.

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