DanceNOW at Joe’s Pub, Dorothy, Annie, and Maria
Last night I had the pleasure of attending DanceNOW’s presentation Dorothy, Annie, and Maria at Joe’s Pub. The show consisted of three works commissioned by DanceNOW over the past 10 years. The performance began with Nicholas Leichter Dances’ The Wiz, continued with The Bang Group’s Showdown, and ended with Doug Elkins Fräulein Maria. Each of these works are a contemporary take on a classic musical.
I love Joe’s Pub for its intimacy. The stage is tiny, the tables are cramped, and the drinks are, well, available. Although it can be challenging to find a good view in the house, Joe’s Pub always wins me over with its charm. I mean, what could be better than an evening of dance, drinks, and dimly lit table tops? For dance performances, the layout of Joe’s Pub offers a unique challenge. Because the stage is small and irregularly shaped, staging works under these conditions force companies to contend with a variety of spatial constraints. Witnessing how choreographers cope with Joe’s Pub’s unique setting is half the fun of attending dance performances there.
Nicholas Leichter Dances’ The Wiz takes songs from the beloved musical by the same name and implants them in contemporary underground New York. The movement is interesting, however at times the staging came off as a bit two-dimensional. Leichter’s work is influenced by a variety of social dances. Although his dancers were talented, there were moments when I felt the social aspect of the choreography took over and I lost the sense of performance.
Of the works presented last night, The Bang Group’s Showdown stood out to me. The piece, set to music from Annie Get Your Gun was a delightful mix of seamless partnering, and brilliantly timed comedic moments. The company succeeded in making Joe’s Pub’s stage look big! An impressive feat especially when you consider that the piece had a cast of 8 dancers, most of whom were tall and long. The dancers movements were consistently full and the staging was flawless. The Bang Group’s choreography succeeded in being witty without appearing contrived.
The last piece of the evening, Doug Elkins Fräulein Maria, was another high point of the night. The piece was brought to life through Elkin’s intricate choreography and the artistry of his dancers. The acting chops of the dancers really stood out as they brought their characters to life telling stories in even the slightest of facial expressions. The movement throughout Fräulein Maria is engaging. I am always impressed by how Elkins manages to make strange moments appear graceful and coherent in his work.
The performance is playing for one more night, Feb 16th at 7pm. Tickets are still available and can be purchased here.