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Review: DK's "World Music Carnaval"

January 14, 2010

For its Jan. 7-10 program at the Indiana Repertory Theatre, Dance Kaleidoscope revisited 2000's "Food of Love" and 1999's "Play Mas'."

The first, originally performed at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival during a residency there, took inspiration from "Twelfth Night" and, it seemed, from children's games. Robes and ritual movement at the top of the show suggested a religious rite that soon gave way to games, partnerships, and even some friendly competition.

Fueled by world music, the pieces had energy more than content as connective tissue. In one movement, soloists followed their performances by picking their successors in the circle. In another, male dancers each showed their stuff and then high-fived to transition to the next, as if they were part of a cheerleading squad's half-time show. An effective if not particularly memorable curtain-raiser, "Food for Love" did make me wish I had seen DK in its Oregon Shakespeare Festival context...and hope that such outdoor "green shows" find a way into other events here. Perhaps the in-the-works Regional Performing Arts Center will include such appetizers during its first and future summer seasons. Here's hoping.

After intermission, the company returned for "Play Mas'." Much has been made about third-season DKer Brittany Edwards and how the piece had been retailored (and the lead given a sex change) to accommodate her talents. As in other DK appearances, she showed herself to be a dancer whose skills match her striking, star-quality appearance and choreographer David Hochoy worked her into the show in a variety of creative contexts.

The Carnaval atmosphere of the entire piece, though, felt less authentic than touristy. The rest of the company seemed like in-for-the-weekend vacationers instead of celebratory locals. (Then again, if you put this appealing crew in a beach house, that would be a "Jersey Shore" I would watch.) Elsewhere, a would-be fun -- and slightly erotic -- devil sequence was marred by flimsy pitchforks. George Salinas again proved a fun, comic dancer in a "gin and coconut water" drunk bit. And it all ended in an audience-participation parade that, at the Thursday performance, was fairly joyous and not nearly as awkward as such things can be.

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