Tag Archives: Bob Fosse

Preview: DGDG’s The Bippy Bobby Boo Show

Ghoulish Games

Photo: Anthony Lazon
The cast of The Bippy Bobby Boo Show

 

Danielle Georgiou Dance Group puts a spooky twist on 1960s musical variety TV with The Bippy Bobby Boo Show at Theatre Three.

Dallas — Danielle Georgiou’s fascination with the social norms and entertainment icons of the 1950s and ‘60s have been the precursor for many of Danielle Georgiou Dance Group’s (DGDG) most memorable performances over the years, including NICE (2014), The Show About Men (2015) and Donkey Beach (2017).

In DGDG’s latest production, The Bippy Bobby Boo Show, co-creators Georgiou and Justin Locklear are using the structure of a ‘60s musical variety show to explore hot button issues surrounding sexuality, gender roles, cultural differences and even death.

To keep the mood from getting too heavy, the 15-member cast will address these themes through song and dance reminiscent of the era. Oh, and performers will be doing it all while portraying ghosts of former patrons and audience members of Theatre Three, which is where the company will be performing the show in the downstairs space, Theatre Too!, Oct. 25-Nov. 2

The script contains all the mirth and subtle sarcasm that we have come to expect in a DGDG performance, but Georgiou points out that the language has been toned down to fit within the parameters of what was deemed acceptable for T.V. during this time period.

“We are staying true to how shows were formed in the ‘60s. So the jokes are full of innuendos, but there are certain things that you couldn’t do or say in the ‘60s, and we are holding true to that because all of our ghosts are from that time period and don’t really know what would happen in 2019.”

Georgiou adds that even though the material addresses contemporary issues, we are still dealing with the same issues that we were dealing with in the ‘60s. With that said she does acknowledge that we have made advances as a society, but says historically we are still in the same place. “I’m not going to discredit the strides we have taken forward as a society, but universally we are still dealing with the same sorts of conceptual issues, including fear of the unknown, fear of different cultures and isolationism. So we are tackling those sorts of ideas in the show, but through, as we always do, a very comedic lens.”

She adds, “We also have the history of Theatre Three and the productions they have done in the past to be able to use theater as truly a mirror onto these ghosts and what they have seen throughout the 58 years of the theater.”

Georgiou goes on to explain that these ghosts have followed Theatre Three from each space it has inhabited over the company’s history from the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Dallas and a car seat factory in Deep Ellum to the theater’s current space in the Quadrangle.

“We just imagined that some of the patrons are really in love with the theater and just decided that that’s where they wanted to spend their afterlife,” Georgiou says about the show’s premise.

“So they have decided that they can be actors too and every night they put on their own show for each other. But Bippy Bobby has this idea that all the alive people need to come and see the show and so he comes up with a plan to get what we call the pre-dead down into the basement to watch the ghost’s show.”

Even though the show is centered on these ghostly characters, Georgiou is quick to say that the show is not intended to be scary. “This is a comedy show, so it’s goofy gags and thrills and some blood, but it happens in a very comedic way.”

Locklear plays late-night show host Bippy Bobby, who is a combination of many well-known hosts from the era, including Jack Linkletter, Jim O’Neill, Roger Miller and Dean Martin. Georgiou says there is even some of Beetlejuice’s wackiness in the character. If Locklear’s performance is anything like the kooky narrator role he did in Donkey Beach, then audiences are in for a good time.

What about that title, which rolls off the tongue.

Bippy Bobby Boo came from the fact that we knew we wanted to do a ghost story and also something that involved magic,” Georgiou says. “It also came from that Cinderella and Fairy Godmother moment because she basically gives Cinderella everything that she wants. So, we were trying to come up with names of a talk show host who hosted a late-night haunted variety show and we knew it had to be magical because this ghost character has a lot of powers and from there Bippy Bobby was born.”

As for the choreography, Georgiou says she is incorporating moves from well-known jazz choreographers making work in the ‘60s, including Bob Fosse and David Winters. “I wanted it to be what they would have made. So I watched a lot of Hullabaloo episodes and was heavily inspired by what those dancers were doing on that show.”

She continues, “Their movement was fast-paced, sharp, athletic and that’s a challenge because right now we are so contemporary dance-based and fluidity is what’s marketed as how dance is right now.”

For the last couple of years, Georgiou has been making choreography for and outside of DGDG that is solely jazz based. “There’s something that’s really beautiful and also incredible to watch as an audience member when you see 15 bodies doing exactly the same thing at the exact same time. Your brain doesn’t understand what it’s watching, and I’m interested in seeing if we can do it too.”

She adds, “I’ve spent the last seven to eight years doing one thing and I just felt like there is more that I want to explore as an artist. I also want to challenge myself too in what I’m making, and so this was, for me, the next step.”

>This preview was originally posted on TheaterJones.com.

 

Review: 8&1 Dance Company, Exchange Street

Sarah Beal Photography.
Khalid Beard, head trainer at Title Boxing Club in Uptown in Exchange Street. Sarah Beal Photography.


8&1 Dance Company enthralls audiences with its full-length dance drama Exchange Street, which highlights the parallels between dance and boxing.

Plano — Outside of boxing the term heavyweight refers to a person of great influence or importance. Watching 8&1 Dance Company receive a standing ovation after the presentation of the company’s full-length dance dramaExchange Street Saturday evening at the Courtyard Theatre in Plano, it’s safe to say that 8&1’s Artistic Director Jill S. Rucci has earned her title of a dance heavyweight in Dallas. Drawing inspiration from personal experiences, all Rucci’s work over the past five years has radiated an authenticity that appeals to audiences on a primitive level. Add in her vast knowledge of producing and directing and an eclectic group of dancers and artists well-versed in all forms of dance and performance art and you have the makings for a dance company unlike any other in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Staying true to form 8&1 Dance Company’s latest production, Exchange Street, was inspired by Rucci’s grandfather and pays homage to the sport of boxing in the 1960s. Written and choreographed by Rucci,Exchange Street follows boxer Barry “The Bull” Leonard (Khalid Beard) on his rise to the top as well as his struggles to find a balance between boxing and his home life with his girlfriend (Hannah Fozkos). Rucci’s genius music choices, which include James Brown, Dean Martin, Simon & Garfunkel, Kenny Rogers and Dorothy Moore, not only reflected the time period, but also contained lyrics that directly tied into the characters’ narratives. Rucci’s movement choices seamlessly blended popular social dances such as the mashed potato, shimmy and twist into the mainly jazz-driven choreography. Costume Designer Sherri Fozkos and hair and make-up’s Kendra Hibbs and Jessica Scharff completed the image with beehive hairdos, floral dresses, form-fitted capris, suspenders, bright scarves and newsboy caps.

Sarah Beal Photography
Sarah Beal Photography

Company members Lauren Daniels, Kendra Hibbs, McKenzie Rollinson, Shelby Stanley, Pat White and Tesla Wolfe opened the show with a vivacious Fosse-inspired jazz number to Louis Armstrong’s Cabaret. Dressed all in black with black fishnets and character shoes, the six performers executed Fosse’s signature hips swivels, shoulder isolations and wrist flicks with rigor and poise. Rucci layered these moves with subtle head tilts, stop and go action and explosive leaps which matched the varying rhythms of Armstrong’s trumpet playing. While the dance was exciting and inviting, there was another scene that would have packed a stronger punch as the show’s opener.

Sitting on a bench on a dimly lit stage, the audience was glued to The Bull (Beard) as he methodically taped up his hands and slid on his boxing gloves before standing up and shadowboxing. As the head trainer at Title Boxing Club in Uptown and a trained fighter, there was nothing artificial about the way Beard moved. Every little detail from the number of times he wrapped the tape around his wrists to the unconscious way he scratched his head and thumbed his nose came across natural and uncensored. Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Boxer” added complexity and intensity to the scene without detracting from the simplistic beauty of watching Beard navigate through his routine.

After his workout at the gym The Bull headed to a local bar where he would meet his soon-to-be girlfriend Fozkos. While they were getting to know each other, Rucci used this time to highlight the company’s proficiency in other dance styles outside of modern, including jazz, musical theater and swing dance. While not always together, the ladies showcased unwavering control and playful musicality in a sultry group number to “Man’s World” by James Brown. The whole cast let loose during Nina Simone’s “Ain’t Got That Swing” with dancers Trent Hyman and Stanley stealing the show with a swing duet full of continuous twists, spins, lifts and flips garnering generous applause from the audience. As the night came to an end narrator Avery D. Wilson walked out to give us a status update on the couple and teased us with some foreshadowing on the second half. Wilson’s charming smile and suave aire immediately put the audience at ease while his silky, yet punctuated manner of speaking had us hanging on his every word.

Sarah Beal Photography
Sarah Beal Photography

The men dominated the second half, which also included the highly anticipated fight between The Bull and Terrell “Lights Out” Lopez (trained boxer Brian Lacy). Leading up to the fight The Bull struggled to find a balance between boxing and spending time with Fozkos, which the couple acted out to Kenny Rogers’ “Don’t Fall in Lovewith a Dreamer.” Fozkos vented her frustration with the situation by writing a letter as a recording of her voice transcribed it aloud. The letter writing then led her to perform a technically clean and passionate contemporary solo to Dorothy Moore’s “Misty Blue.” While slightly over conceptualized, the scene was still one of the most touching moments in the show. Before the fight dancers Ruben Benitez, Chad Geiger, Trent Hyman and Nick Leos let it rip with a series of barrel turns, leg jumps and traveling grapevines in what can only be called an exuberant display of stamina and swag.

Rucci did an admirable transforming the theater into a real life boxing match with the help of dim lighting, a pseudo boxing ring prop and boxing official Johnny Carrasco who played the role of referee. Beard and Lacy didn’t hold anything back in the ring. Like dance, the pair’s boxing moves had a pulse that changed tempo when the two moved toward and away from one another. There was also a graceful quality to the way their feet shifted back and forth. The two art forms finally came together when five of the dancers whose faces were obscured by white hoodies, started punching, ducking and drop and rolling to Gnarls Barkley’s aptly chosen song, Run. Perhaps this dance would have been taken to the next level if Beard and Lacy had joined in the mayhem instead of freezing when the dancers came out. Or if the fighters were boxing to music instead of in silence. But as it was, the audience ate it up, shouting out encouragements like “Let’s go Bull” and “Hit him with a left!”

Talk about a knockout.

This review was originally posted on TheaterJones.com.

Review: SMU Meadows Dance Ensemble Fall Concert 2014

Dancin' Man. Photo: Sharen Bradford
Dancin’ Man. Photo: Sharen Bradford

Intricate lighting, Illusions and props take center stage at this year’s Southern Methodist University’s Meadows Dance Ensemble Fall Dance Concert.

Dallas — Light played a pivotal role, literally and metaphorically, at this year’s Fall Dance Concert presented by Southern Methodist University’s Meadows Dance Ensemble. The Bob Hope Theatre on the SMU Campus was packed Friday night for the preimere of Christopher Dolder’s Handle as well as works by Bob Fosse, Adam Hougland and Alex Sanchez.

In past viewings The Meadows Dance Ensemble has proved itself to be a versatile and resilient group of dancers with a high level of professionalism. The pieces chosen for this year’s program challenged the dancers to take on multiple roles from lighting and prop mover to singer and hat trickster. This generation of dancers must know about all aspects of the performance and these students are well on their way.

The program opens with Dolder’s kaleidoscopic work Handle with music by Andhim, Eduardo Castillo, Fabricio Cavero, Farfan Herman Hupfeld, Moby, Thomas Newman and Avro Part. Through special lighting techniques, video projection, costuming and permeable walls, Dolder takes the public’s perception of what dance should look like and flips it on its head. One faceless dancer in a white body suit performs a series of wavy, bird-like movements before appearing to freeze in mid-air and being absorbed into one of the two 10-foot-tall permeable walls (one black and one white). On the white wall, two dancers covered head-to-toe in black emerge from the wall and perform a horizontal duet consisting of high upper back arches and gentle push and pull movements before disconnecting themselves from their tethers.

The piece climaxes during the dogfight where four couples take turns whipping and tugging at one another aided by the handles sewn into their costumes. The movement is grounded and concaved, evidence of Dolder’s extensive knowledge of Graham technique. This is also the first time we see the dancers’ faces and we are able to see them as humans versus objects. Even with all the added elements, the piece has a clear beginning, middle and end with the take away message being to handle each other and our environment with care.

Choreographer Christopher Dolder's new work Handle. Photo: Robert Hart.
Choreographer Christopher Dolder’s new work Handle. Photo: Robert Hart.

Hougland’s To the Fore also incorporates unique lighting techniques, but in this piece it’s the dancers controlling the light. Four work lights attached to long extension cords capture the four female dancers as they explode onto the stage in a series of quick bourree steps, saute jumps and turns on pointe. As the dancers approach their light it is suddenly pulled away, placing them in shadow. Four men appear and trail the light along their partner’s body as they bend and contort into different shapes. While the extension cords were intended to be props in their own right, obstacles around which dancers had to maneuver, at times they distracted from the dancers’ athletic quality of movement.

Hougland displays his talent for narratives in his second piece Cigarettes, set to different versions of the song “Three Cigarettes in an Ashtray” by Patsy Cline, Pickin’ On, Georgette Dee & Terry Truck, Smokers Die Younger and k.d. lang. The story describes a woman’s encounter with three different men and the affect she has on them. Kelsey Rohr was exquisite in this role. Her matured body awareness enables her to move easily from luxurious back stretches and weightless leaps to frantic gesturing and leaded walks. On this night, Zachery Biel, Christopher Dorsey and Dexter Green displayed their prowess in a series of acrobatic moves and tricky lifts with Rohr.

The evening closes with Alex Sanchez’s homage to Bob Fosse. The work is split into three sections that represent different periods of accomplishment in his life. Fosse’s admiration for Fred Astaire is evident through the white socks with back shoes and slacks, wide-rim hats and tight arm movements in Dancin’ Man. No big jumps or multiple pirouettes, just clean, staccato hat tricks and rhythmic walking. The loss of a hat did break the Illusion for a moment and brings up the question whether a dancer should ever retrieve a lost prop or just keep on going. In this instance they went with the lather.

Reid Conlon, Hope Endrenyi and Reid Frye did a commendable job in Fosse’s classic “Steam Heat.” Dressed in black suits and bowler hats, the trio nailed the Fosse shoulder isolations and turned-in foot work. The hat flips and traveling knee spins were big crowd pleasures. The men shone in the final section with their elongated runs, knee bobs and shimmies to the upbeat notes of “Sing, Sing, Sing.” While the angels’ balletic movements in between the sections don’t seem to add much to the work, the image of the hat bathed in a single spotlight at the very beginning is certainly arresting. Having everyone lip-sync the peppy show tunes also adds more authenticity to the piece.

This review was originally published on TheaterJones.com.

 

Review: SMU 2013 Fall Dance Concert

Raising the Barre

The Southern Methodist University Meadows Dance Ensemble keeps audiences on their toes during this year’s Fall Dance Concert.

Photo: Sharen Bradford/The Dancing Image Zero Cool performed in the Meadows Dance Ensemble's 2013 Fall Dance Concert at Southern Methodist University.
Photo: Sharen Bradford/The Dancing Image
Zero Cool performed in the Meadows Dance Ensemble’s 2013 Fall Dance Concert at Southern Methodist University.

Dallas — An athletic contemporary piece, a Twyla Tharp-inspired solo, an Antony Tudor favorite and a playful classical Jazz piece made for a stylistically pleasing and emotionally taxing Friday evening at the Southern Methodist University Meadows Dance Ensemble’s 2013 Fall Dance Concert at the school’s Bob Hope Theater.

The extremely diverse program challenged the dancers physically and mentally. In some instances they succeeded while others left us wanting a little more.

The most entertaining piece of the night was Cathy Young’s Jack Cole-inspired Zero Cool (1998), set to Duke Ellington’s La Plus Belle Africaine (excerpt), Oclupaca, Tina, Blue Pepper (Far East of the Blues) and Malletoba Spank. The dim lighting, evocative music and red-and-black costuming was reminiscent of the smoky club scene in the movie Singin’ in the Rain (1952) as Cyd Charisse danced for Gene Kelly.

The dance featured five ladies and four men performing a number of shoulder rolls, hip swirls and body isolations as they strutted through a series of intricate pattern changes. There were also a few Bob Fosse moves sprinkled in, including his signature wrist flicks and pelvis tilts, which made sense as Fosse was also an admirer of Cole’s work. Social dances like the Twist and Pony were also mixed in.

Photo: Sharen Bradford/The Dancing Image Josh Peugh debuted his new work Pick-Up at the Meadows Dance Ensemble's 2013 Fall Dance Concert at SMU.
Photo: Sharen Bradford/The Dancing Image
Josh Peugh debuted his new work Pick-Up at the Meadows Dance Ensemble’s 2013 Fall Dance Concert at SMU.

Young’s knack for capturing every instrument’s sound through her movement created an air of anticipation of what will the dancers do next. For most of the piece the dancers were performing two tasks at once. For example, strutting across the floor and isolating their ribcage, or bouncing their knees and flicking their wrists. Even with the fast tempo the dancers never missed a beat. And of course the number wouldn’t have been complete without the performers’ fun-loving attitudes.

Joshua L. Peugh’s new work PICK-UP contained some carefree moments but that is where the similarities with Young’s piece end. While the stage had very little dressing and the 12 dancers were dressed in basic white/black lace tops and black bottoms, the same cannot be said about Peugh’s choreography. His movement has a primitive quality to it. He’d rather his dancers hunch their shoulders and travel on all fours. There was even a moment when the dancers had to bite their own arm. Peugh’s characteristic twisty/curvy floor work and subtle yet inventive partnering also came through in the piece. His music choices ranged from Dave Brubeck, Johann Hermann Schein and Kyu Sakamoto to Dinah Washington and deadman5. Peugh is definitely making his voice heard in the Dallas dance community.

Former Twyla Tharp dancer John Selya choreographed a visually interesting solo performed this evening by dancer Emily Alexa Perry entitled “…ain’t confidential.” Using a single stage floor light Perry performed a series of arching angular movements that appeared to travel only on a linear plane to the mellow musings of Bill Callahan’s “Ride My Arrow.” Tharp dancers are known for their athleticism and groundedness, which showed in Perry’s deep plies and controlled spins. The image of a computer keyboard projected on the background with the keys blinking in time to the music and a digital clock counting the length of the solo added dimensions to the otherwise 2-D piece.

The restaging of Antony Tudor’s famous Dark Elegies lacked some of the emotional punch inherent in its 1937 debut, but it did feature some exquisite ballet technique and emotionally powerful solo performances by Aubry Neal and Alex Druzbanski. The piece depicts the rituals of a community following the death of its children. The dim lighting, muted blue and maroon costumes and music by Gustav Mahler entitled Kindertotenlieder (Songs on the Death of Children) reinforced their feelings of loss.

Tudor was a real disciplinarian when it came to technique, so all the dancers’ lines were uniformed and appeared as snapshots pasted together. The dancers’ slow and deliberate walking was punctuated with reaching arms and lengthy arabesque holds. While some of the dancers need to work on projecting their emotions a little more, everyone gave a quality performance in the last scene when the community came together to heal.

The SMU Meadows Dance Ensemble put on a captivating and diverse performance that only proves today’s dancers need to be even more versatile if they want to pursue dance professionally. And hopefully when that day comes they will choose to start their career in Dallas.

This review was originally posted on TheaterJones.com.