BodyVox, on tour

The Cutting Room

Written by:
Lewis Whittington
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That rowdy dance troupe from Portland, Oregon known as BodyVox returned to their avid fan base at Dance Celebration in Philadelphia. They performed The Cutting Room an ambitious, erratic multi-media dance satire about movies. It was conceived by BVX’s artistic directors-choreographers Jamey Hampton and Ashley Roland, veterans of MOMIX and Pilobolus, and have just as an adventurous template on their own.

The piece is set up as a send-up of film culture, pits Hampton and a rival (or muse) in shady shades vie for control of a canister of film, read- creative control. They wrestle around until Hampton escapes with the film through screen panels on which film clips transport them to various filmic worlds. The too lengthy clips allow time for some elaborate costume changes.

The first tableaux ,Historical Fiction, takes a swipe at the fictionalized history, the pristine, choreographically narrow Versailles court dances break out in music hall lewdness. Demure lift patterns turn into spread eagle crotch gazing, pristine minuets devolve into courtly lust. The men are in silky tattered breaches on the men and laced bodices on the women, the characterizations are raucous dance commedia dell’ arte.

Documentary, an underwater fantasia, with the ensemble interlocked into shapes of the vampire octopus, with the company in second blue-grey uniskins. The Cousteau narration describes the organism’s constantly morphing and its fleshy viscera, darkly mysterious, embodied by the ensemble.. Back on land, Screen Kiss parodies film noir, with everyone in period garb and snatches of dialogue from Streetcar Named Desire and Taxi Driver on the soundtrack.  The player intrudes on couples slow-dancing and stealing kisses from the women (and a fella) when they are faced away from their partners. The one joke dance skit breaks out in jitterbug variations which are, smartly, not over danced.

Bollywood a bawdy parody of Indian cine-flash, but nonetheless inspired fine variations of Indian dance, into razzle-dazzle show dance with the  men bare-chested with lame harem pants, pumping their pelvises like Bollywood Chippendales. Meanwhile the women are segregated, performing Indian classical dances, demurely behind their fanning silks.  Both overtly sexual and hilariously demure.

Sci-Fi, a lugubrious take off of 2001: A Space Odyssey, with HAL the computer overriding Dave the astronaut who short-circuits him leaving him with only singing Daisy. This is acted out by the dancers shutting down in slo-mo with Butoh-esque precision, but running much too long. Back on earth, the ensemble was kicking up the dirt in Americana, with Appalachian high stepping  and infectious variations. The Cutting Room needs some cuts, but these dancers were ready for their close-ups in every scene.

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