Monday, July 14, 2008

Scott Wells & Dancers at Project Artaud

Scott Wells & Dancers
Presented by ODC Theater
At Project Artaud Theater
July 10, 2008, 8PM

Scott Wells & Dancers flew through the air last night at the Project Artaud Theater. With captivating lifts and contact movement, Wells seemed poised to take our breath away, but I left without needing an inhaler, a slight shame when reflecting on the overall scheme of things.

Wells’ “Home,” an early 90s cult hit, closed the show, and while it reminded me of how my high school and college days could have been but weren't, the ending fizzled into a blur. The five dancers spent the first portion building relationships to a montage of music and old-style radio ads, but then it became more about headswishing to Nirvana and swaying to Handel than anything else. The mood, though, filled me with hope that I might just be able to perform a double twist onto my living room's aged Busvan for Bargains sofa. I more so enjoyed the smaller and more intimate connections built throughout. Suzanne Lappas and Lindsay Gauthier explored girl power with sweetness, and Hallie Aldrich and Ross Hollenkamp shared special times over chairs. Andrew Ward played the odd one out, yet still won our hearts.

“Gym Mystics,” which premiered last year, opened with Rajendra Serber twirling and coddling a wood beam. Eight dancers gracefully flew across the floor with an eye-catching cartwheel-and-somersault canon, and the work later moved to a hilarious pas de trois with Serber, Lappas, and Aldrich on the segmented balance beam. These three played with ideas of emotional and physical support while building confidence to tackle the difficult, all while looking semi-swanlike, even in their striped yoga pants and tanks.

“West Side (story) Dances” also made it’s debut on the bill, but fell short of expectations. After seeing San Francisco Ballet sing and dance its way through Jerome Robbins’ ballet version, I felt like this one didn’t quite cut the mustard. Or as Randy Jackson may say, Wells didn’t make it his own. Using a lot of unison, both in groups and partner dancing, the audience sort of “got it” quickly. People are happy. People are sad. People are fighting. People are singing (and these people shouldn’t sing). Oh, and people are doing the mambo. For me, the choreography shined when Wells jumps about fifteen steps outside of the box. Part way through, dancers ran, slid, jumped, and spun onto the dimly stage from the audience’s side entrance, and all of a sudden, there was something unexpected. And that left me breathless.