Theater must lend itself more easily to humor than dance because one so rarely sees attempts at humor in dance. Maybe it’s the years of training required for even modest physical competence as a dancer, but choreographers overwhelmingly embrace serious abstract or story-based approaches. Sara Herrera’s And1! a dansical, then, is a breath of fresh air.
The concept of And1! is in some ways obvious. The actor/dancer/singers pull back the curtain on interactions between dancers and dance-makers, allowing us to witness the dancers in class and rehearsal and experience their internal thoughts.
In their interactions we hear things like: “I am so over juxtaposition!”, and, “Sassy sassy sassy hey, sassy sassy sassy throw it away”, and this is traditional spoof territory. Movies like “CenterStage”, “The Turning Point”, and “Dancers” offer a window into the professional dance experience but only the Wayans Brothers Dance Flick, has spoofed the seriousness with which dancers and choreographers approach their work.
The scenes of choreographers at work are the most creative, including a pretty brilliant versioning of Adele’s hit song “Hello” (well-sung by cast member Mariana Barros.) A post-rehearsal foam-roller session set to a Latin version of the “Mission Impossible” theme exposed where And1! might grow. What starts as a sort of tango between the dancers and their rollers never develops; the inspiration between the concept and its physical execution could be explored further.
And 1! a dansical
Presented by ArasDance
Details and tickets
This dansical is cerebral and despite its subject matter doesn’t include much physical humor. It does include strong dance/dance-theater performances from cast members Mariana Barros, Jessica Bracy, Sara Herrera, Kate Page, Matthew Rock, and Brynna Shank. You can see them performing sincere dance, theater and musical theater elsewhere but here you get to see their collective lighter side. And1! includes a section by new choreographer Matthew Rock.
The light design by Tyler Duboc with assistant light designer Tony Kopethny didn’t distract from the work but the sound design did. No sound designer is credited and perhaps that’s what led to the balance problems; in several sections the actors on stage weren’t audible above the blare of accompanying music.
Herrera is a graduate of the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing Arts (in Dallas), and received her undergraduate degree in Dance from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia before spending three and a half years dancing in New York City. She’s been in DC nearly a decade and while at one point a full time dance teacher, Herrera is spending more time recently performing and choreographing.
You can see Herrera next in Dance Place’s Marvin Gaye Project. But if you’re looking for something entertaining now — including a reworking of the 90’s hit “Gloria” sung as “Hernia” — you should put this on your Fringe short-list.
And1! A Dansical . Choreographed by Sara Herrera and company . Directed by Sara Herrera Cast: Mariana Barros, Jessica Bracy, Rosalynd Harris, Sara Herrera, Kate Page, Matthew Rock . Produced by ArasDance . Reviewed by Robert Bettman.