Hip Shot: Donna Has a Boyfriend
GALA Theatre at Tivoli Square
July 17, 6:15 p.m.
July 20, 8:15 p.m.
Jul 22, 2:30 p.m.
Jul 25, 10:15 p.m.
They Say:"Donna Has a Boyfriend is a collection of three choreographic works by darlingdance, a critically acclaimed local postmodern dance company. The show begins with a meticulous study in spatial patterns and proximity and ends in a chaotic frenzy of movement."
Rebecca's Take: That blurb must have been written and submitted long before this "collection of works" was finished; I wouldn't call the slow-motion series of arm movements that closes the program a "chaotic frenzy." But the three pieces do contain glimmers of the meticulous attention to detail Hayley Cutler puts into her choreography. She's seems very aware of what the bigger names in modern dance are doing, and has done a nice job synthesizing a few trends into her own work.
The most promising piece in the trio is a duet called "And Every Year Is Zero." It features Felicia Stevens, a petite dancer in cut-offs, and Rick Westerkamp as her heavyset partner. The music—The Black Keys, singing Buddy Holly's "Dearest"—fades in and out. Their partnering is sweet and shy; they seem oblivious to each other even as Westerkamp cradles Stevens in his arms. It's like they're experiencing new romance in their own heads. Both Trey McIntyre and Larry Keigwin have composed similarly sweet duets, set to music from the same era. But if those choreographers are creating the modern dance equivalents of a Nicholas Sparks or Judd Apatow movie, respectively, Cutler's piece plays out like a indie film. There's a storyline about this seemingly mismatched couple unfolding in your mind, and the movement, even as they tentatively take a roll on the floor, fills in for the mumblecore dialogue.
Cutler's opening work is an abstract piece for female ensemble. Technique-wise, the dancers aren't flawless, but Cutler has a good sense of their limits and their strengths. The program ended with a rather awkward piece for Westerkamp and two of the women. For long stretches, viewers were simply asked to stare as the dancers stood at the front of the stage slowly traced arcs in the air with their arms. The pattern brought to mind David Parsons' tongue-in-cheek "Hand Dance," but it's not nearly as lively or interesting.
Cutler is a graduate of George Washington's dance program and London's Laban Conservatoire. She founded her company, darlingdance, in 2010, and has been featured in a number of collaborative projects around town, including at the 2012 Source Festival. Adding Fringe to her resume is a natural progression, especially this year, since the festival made an effort to find a venue better for dance, and GALA's space was available. darlingdance isn't ready to make its debut at a major venue anytime soon—among other things, Cutler needs a few good men and and editor—but as cliched as this sounds, she's a choreographer to watch.
See It If: You want to support creative young dancemakers in D.C.
Skip It If: You splurged last week to see the Paris Opera Ballet at the Kennedy Center, and only flawless footwork and hot French guys justify that kind of dance expense.