Not to give too much credit to the venue-it's the Dance Kaleidoscope company and choreographer David Hochoy who deserve the credit-but the upper stage at the Indiana Repertory Theatre provided an ideal place to bask in DK's "Ashland Dances" (Nov. 15-18). With seating on three sides, the company connected not just to the material-pieces first staged as part of the company's now-ended 10-year gig with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival-but to its enthusiastic audience as well. There's something wonderful about seeing the eyes of dancers-especially in a non-linear show that isn't story-based. It's where you can separate the serviceable from the fully engaged.
If you didn't read the program, you may not even have realized that each piece on the "Ashland Dances" program was inspired by a Shakespeare play. No matter. The "Romeo and Juliet"- influenced work, "Come Sweet Love," was dominated by tender pairings and longing, elegant solos (a neck-held spin, though, looked dangerously unromantic).
The second piece, "Weill World," seemed disconnected from "The Taming of the Shrew" but very connected to its Kurt Weill music. In it, Hochoy deftly avoided obvious Bob Fosse-isms (Weill's music inspired such shows as "Cabaret" and "Chicago") and found a unique body language for these squalidly sexy tunes that often played on masculine/feminine assumptions. Here, again, the eyes of the dancers were as compelling as their limbs, with steely-eyed heartbreaker Mariel Greenlee and clear, direct George Salinas standing out.
The final piece, "Such Stuff as Dreams are Made On" seemed the most organic, whole and original creation of the batch. Only after the show did I learn that composer Sue Carney, who created the rich Celtic music, worked directly with DK on the works' Oregon premier. The audience fell in love with the Scarlett-Johanssonfaced Melanie Screiber, the graceful and pugnacious (a wonderful combo) Jillian Godwin and company vet Kenoth Shane Patton (technically terrific but, for me, a bit lacking on the emotional front).
The last 10 minutes of "Such Stuff" contained a series of "and that's not all!" moments, leading the audience to believe a wonderful finale had been reached ... only to then offer more and more. It was enough to make one forget that a tooclose Colts game was going on just down the street. And to make you flip through the program to find out when DK's next performance would be held. (I'll save you the search: It's a comedic program, "Funny Feat," Jan. 3-6.)
Sometimes, you can gauge the success of a production by what it inspires you to do afterwards. In the case of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra's exuberant pops program of movie music (Nov. 16-18), I left inspired to revisit "Spartacus," expose my kids to "Modern Times" and finally get around to watching "Dr. Zhivago."
The film music included in the ISO concert primarily came from epics-big movies that were somehow more magical than their current computer-assisted counterparts. The percussionists had a field day with Miklos Rosa's "Parade of Charioteers" from "Ben Hur." The strings embraced Alex North's love theme from "Spartacus" and had a good time with the sawing of Bernard Herrmann's "Psycho." Even if the projected-on-screen clips often seemed cobbled together, it was still fun to use them as reference points and reminders of the music's original context.
Strike what I said in the beginning. I think this weekend's movie watching is going to include "The Magnificent Seven," with its rousing Elmer Bernstein theme. Of course, I have to prepare for a bit of a letdown-there's no way my feeble TV speakers can compete with the ISO at full power.