Chances are, only a handful of people in attendance when Oregon-based BodyVox visited Pike Performing Arts Center on Feb. 28 had ever seen the group before.
Think about that.
Think about the faith exhibited by the act of buying tickets and showing up. Imagine a group of sports fans showing up to see a game having never seen any of the players compete before.
The BodyVox risk yielded mixed results. A first act sequence, featuring a pas de deux between man and a construction crane (whimsically titled ‘Deere John’), went over huge with the crowd. In the second act, a very funny film highlighting a couple’s sleep movements joyously tipped onto the silly side. And a final piece blended film and live dance, as an amorphous film background slowly came into focus as a seascape, eventually including the on-stage dancers into the filmed action.
There was remarkable work elsewhere, too, including a piece for two men on a low trapeze and a group dance where it seemed a man was visited by the spirit of a deceased lover (flown by other dancers). The company’s lesser pieces seemed more concerned with individual moments and less with the steps needed to get from one of those moments to the next. A couple-in-bed number started out clever and frustratingly went nowhere, capped by a lame, gimmicky conclusion.
Still, BodyVox is a company worth watching, for its skill, its creativity and its maturity. I mentioned in my e-mail preview that I’d love to see the company tackle a full-length film. With a new wave of movie musicals, isn’t it time we also see more innovative dance on screen?