The best shows that are “recommended for all ages” appeal not only to younger generations but also to their parents, aunts, and uncles. The show heady collectables by Deep Vision dance company caters to youngsters and adults who have seen very little modern or contemporary dance.
The performers are well-trained and beautifully rehearsed but the material they are given remains two-dimensional and cutesy: great for kids and adults who like to see pretty and funny dancing. As someone who attends lots of dance performances I wondered why this troupe stays stuck in an aesthetic that appears dated and academic, like work made by a college student who is using choreography to illustrate her ideas.
Dance as an art form can communicate in varied ways, and it’s possible for audiences to discover associations and sensations not anticipated or directed by the choreographer.
The performances of heady collectables, though, start with choreographer Nicole A. Martinell standing in front of the audience at GALA Theatre at Tivoli Square and explaining what we were going to see and why she made this choreography. This is a great approach for family shows when audiences may be introducing little ones to a new art form or experience. To me it was clear without this introduction that Martinell’s choreography was playing with movement initiated by the head and facial expressions.
Some sections were zany and full of slapstick. Others looked like games involving dancers passing white boxes that doubled as seats, platforms, and costumes. The six performers’ faces were malleable and showed surprise or anger or joy in different ways. Martinell’s concept was readily apparent in the first 5 minutes of a performance that lasted for 50.
Conceived by Nicole A. Martinell
at GALA Theatre at Tivoli Square
3333 14th Street NW
Washington, DC, 20010
Details and tickets
Many scenes reminded me of watching a silent film with the actors playing different parts and characters, usually for humorous effect. For instance when one dancer placed her head inside one of the white cubes she looked like an ostrich with its head in the sand.
Other scenes had the dancers stuck to each other like Velcro or connected like conjoined twins at certain parts of their bodies. In another section two dancers morphed into stiff dolls, while another two rolled like balls on the floor.
Overall the performance gave the impression of clean, finely tuned skits.
This is a fantastic show to expose children to the multifaceted ways we can use our bodies and transform people into characters through movement. What was unsettling was to see this as part of a Fringe festival, which I view as an opportunity to experiment with new approaches to choreography. This performance seemed neither adventurous nor risk-taking.
Nothing in heady collectables deviated from choreographic exercises that were popular 20 years ago. Perhaps the greatest frustration comes from seeing terrific dancers who appear to be capable of far more innovative work stuck in choreography that looks obvious and predictable.