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Monday, Feb. 23, 2009

Bring Your Own Commentary

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If your idea of interactive dance involves a two-drink minimum and a stack of singles, then read no further and proceed to the ads in the back of this publication. Milwaukee's more enlightened dance aficionados, however, are abuzz over the coming appearance of Lingo Dancetheatre at Alverno College, and with good reason.

Regardless of the athleticism and artistry onstage, dance presentations are mostly a passive event for the viewing audience. With Inhabit, Lingo Dancetheatre seeks to explore "the circumstances that provide common ground, inspire surprising connections and shift the entry point of how the public interfaces with dance." I've had more than one dance recital spoiled by a snoring rube in the next aisle, so I welcome this new philosophy of audience engagement.

And engaged they shall be. At least, the fortunate few who are able to secure tickets. Inhabit may well be the most intriguing performance you never get to see, due to the intimate nature of the piece. Alverno's Pitman Theater has a capacity of more than 900, but for this engagement the seating area will go unused. Instead, the audience, limited each night to 100 people, will occupy the stage alongside the performers.

Lingo bills Inhabit less as a dance and more of a "social and theatrical experiment," akin to a party in someone's living room, but better, since you won't need to clean up the mess the next morning. Chairs will be provided, but the audience will be free to move among the performers, flitting from one "conversation" to the next if they spot something more interesting on another part of the stage, just as in a real social gathering.

Certainly, there will be plenty of interesting goings-on, judging from the diverse background of the hosts. Lingo, which has toured to domestic and international acclaim, features Artistic Director KT Niehoff, an experimental multimedia artist, Aaaron Swartzman, a master of the Brazilian martial art form Capoiera Angola, and Bianca Cabrera, versed in tap, modern, hip-hop and jazz.

Like any good party, word travels fast. As of press time, Saturday's performance was already sold-out, with only 40 tickets or so remaining for Friday's show. Alverno Presents Artistic Director David Ravel offered hope that an additional Thursday night show might be added.

Bring your own commentary. Refreshments will be served.

Lingo Dancetheatre will perform Inhabit at Alverno's Pitman Theatre, March 6-7 at 8 p.m.

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