The piece took a strange turn when the storyline changed from a men-versus-women game to a homoerotic scene with two women. But just as the scene became uncomfortable, the dancers added their signature comic relief.
The U.S. premiere of Hofesh Shechter’s “The Fools” darkly portrayed a mob mentality that alienates originality. It was an eccentric dance set to whirling and flapping sounds of an electric fan blowing a small flag, punctuated by the theme from Francis Ford Coppola’s “Godfather.”
Dimly lit, the stage held 14 dancers — seven “fools” and their seven shadows. Spilt into three parts — another allusion to mobster movies — this section of the evening had the audience waiting for action, for resolution or for dancing.
The seven shadows sat at the back of the stage in the half-darkness, periodically convulsing when the thumping music queued them. The other seven dancers remained hunched over close to the stage floor most of the time restricting their movement.
Alexander Ekman’s “Hubbub” world premiere was the real highlight of the evening. Named for the criticisms or ‘hubbub’ created by performance art, the dancers used everything from raised platforms to their own breath in reaction to the ominous voice of a critic, personified on stage by a typewriter.
In one section, two performers danced on a slip and slide surface as their voices and background music — another dancer holding a boombox walking back and forth behind them — accompanied them.
In another, the dancers rehearsed a set of steps section by section. When finished, they collapsed as if taking a break. They began to breath heavily and suddenly it transformed into a rhythmic breathing exercise, which made even the audience gasp for air.
The final act of “Hubbub” found the dancers at the edge of the stage, facing the audience as if ready to take a final bow. But instead, the voice of the critic divulged intimate secrets about the performers and they boldly, some more so than others, raised their hand in acceptance.
Cedar Lake’s performance was more contemporary than ballet, but nevertheless was an entertaining evening of modern dance at Memorial Hall.
And most of all, it was far from boring.
Four and a half out of five stars