Thursday, April 30, 2009

I Did Dance All Night

We attended a performance of the Luna Negra Dance Theater in Manchester last night. They are a Chicago based troupe that focuses on Spanish Culture. As you can imagine many of the dancers are drawn from the international Latino communities, guaranteeing a wide range of skin color from white to the darkest black. Normally I might say skin color makes no difference, but when you are there to watch bodies, it does (more on that later). They are also a very athletic troupe. No dainty swans here.... they stomp, leap, throw & roll like circus acrobats.

There were only three dances- albeit long dances with two intermissions. The first one was disappointing. We both had the same assessment- classical, competently performed, uninspired. I suspect as an ethnically based troupe they feel compelled to display their classical chops- like that will give them credibility in the serious dance world. But you don't go to see a troupe that is focused on its cultural heritage to see its interpretation of the established dance world. If you go to see a Latino troupe you want hot, passionate & sexy in the tradition of flamenco & tango.

And dish it up, they did.

The second dance Nube Blanco started off as a contemporary dance tango- the give and violent take of a relationship. The women were dressed in very frothy tulle crinolines, which were beautiful to see swaying with their movements. The whole troupe had red shoes which acted as the only color and as props. The shoes came off, were left alone on the stage in neat patterns, they were used as a phone, or picked up and moved around the stage with the dancers. At one point the dancers only wore one shoe- making their gait almost zombie-like as they danced with two different length legs. Throughout the dancers shed clothing until they were left in only black briefs and bras (for the women). The dance ended with a dancer sheathed neck to knees in the crinolines- the fluffy white cloud of the title- dancing amongst the nearly naked bodies. It was both beautiful and silly. The choreographer did not shy away from humor. Finally the stage cleared of all dancers but the white cloud who ended head down to slowly extend a beautiful, black leg to the ceiling. It was entrancing. My boyfriend leaned over and said "That was worth the price of admission right there."

The final dance was Batucada Fantastica, a series of solos culminating in an ensemble finale. It was based on the Brazilian Carnivale, complete with the raucous street music. Each dancer had their own shockingly colored outfit to add to the party atmosphere. And as it that was not enough they used dry ice & dropped confetti. It was very theatrical but it was no mere substitute for good dancing. It became a part of the dance.

If you have a chance to see them-go! And I would be remiss if I didn't mention the fabulous programming of the Dana Center at St Anselm College and its director, Bob Shea. They consistently bring in dance troupes and under appreciated musicians. Support them, support the arts.


LYC said...


fishnet said...

i don't think you gave enough "press" to the adorable elise drew. her lithe, swift movements and her bubbly expressions make her a standout in a quite talented group. i'll admit she attacked my "25 yr. old testosterone soaked mind"...possibly tainting my criticism, but she was very good in ballet hispanica (at least good enough that i remembered her after 7/8 yrs.) and is a better dancer now.