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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Danceworks Puts Hollywood in Motion

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The Danceworks Performance Company’s enjoyable new show “Lights, DPC…Action!,”playing through March 7 at Danceworks Studio Theatre, is such a work of love from the entire company that it’s probably wrong to single anyone out.

Nonetheless, I was knocked breathless by The Unraveling, choreographed by Simon Andreas Eichinger and Dani Kuepper, and superbly lighted by Jan Kellogg. It alone is worth the price of admission to this wittily orchestrated collection of dances inspired by film genres. Horrifying as a great H.P. Lovecraft tale of men possessed by unnamable monsters (which is precisely what appears to be happening), it was danced and acted perfectly by Eichinger under Kuepper’s guidance.

It was followed by another highlight, Kuepper’s When the Dog Bites,set to excerpts from The Sound of Music. The choreography takes a shocking but organic turn at the end that had most of the audience, myself included, screaming with laughter. I won’t reveal the ending, but it’s not only true to the subject (“Climb Every Mountain,” indeed), but also to the conception of the program as an assemblage of powerful, sometimes insidious images of the sort that shape us.

All the dancers were delightfully goofy and Melissa Anderson was especially hilarious. Her Busby Berkeley quotation, Dames, opens the show, a smart idea for a company consisting almost entirely of women. (The always-appealing Steven Moses is the only male, along with guest Eichinger.) I wanted the women to move in perfect sync, as in the source material. But slight gaps in uniformity were redeemed by the conceptual brilliance of its false endings: The girls are brought back repeatedly for more glorification/commodification.

Much else is good, including Liz Hildebrandt’s pas de trois. The program’s choreography is weakest when it simply doesn’t take its good ideas far enough.