Saturday, August 08, 2009

Fringe 2009 - Review - My Body Made Me Do This - 5 stars

Another Third Rabbit Show With Lucky Feet

"I will pretend for the moment that I am not out of breath"

Third Rabbit Dance Ensemble and Varoom

My Body Made Me Do This

I'm starting to sound like a broken record where Third Rabbit Dance Ensemble is concerned. But choreographer/dancer John Munger and his dancing friends, both young and not so young, consistently deliver a varied and entertaining sampler planter of dance styles set to an eclectic selection of music, and this time, even some poetry. My Body Made Me Do This gives everyone in the ensemble a chance to take the spotlight, in pieces both light and dark in tone. It's just the latest in a series of Fringe shows I've seen from Third Rabbit - 2005's Cliff Notes For Dummies, 2006's Tales To Tickle a Striped Ass Baboon, and 2007's 62. It's good to have this welcome returning favorite from my 2007 Top 10 list back in the Fringe mix again after a year away.

The performance kicks off with "Back In The Swing" to an up tempo number by Hothead Fiasco, danced by Joseph Bingham, Natalie Brown and Cathy Wright. Munger himself takes the stage to music by David Byrne for a slow-paced eery bit called "Wrath" - in which, at one point, it seems he wants to give the audience the impression that he's sh*tting gold.

Sharon Varosh choreographed the next piece, "The Watchers: Francisco" (music by Jimmy Skinner and Odetta) in which an artist's model (Morgen Chang) gets a little bored sitting around and posing as required by the artist (David DeBlieck). Her thoughts wander to freer moves, and her body goes along, though she dutifully returns in both mind and body to her assigned place at the end. It's a fun bit of whimsy.

Munger and Cathy Wright team up on a piece called "Two Faces of Mack." Munger choreographed this one to the tune of two very different versions of the song "Mack The Knife" - the Bobby Darin pop hit from decades ago, and a more faithful, and unsettling, translation of the original Bertolt Brecht/Kurt Weill collaboration. The dance and the dancers make interesting adjustments between the two.

Cathy Wright has choreographed a Fringe show of her own Thrower of Light, and her ensemble of dancers took the stage next to give the audience a sampling of what they have to offer. It was an intense and interesting piece, in which the dancers pulled faces as well as dance moves, and seemed sometimes to be animals as much as human beings. They also cued off each other's noises as much as the music. Creepy, but pretty cool. And had the desired effect of making me what to go see what the whole show looks like. One of the many things I appreciate about John Munger's Fringe shows is how generous they are. Generous with the stage time given to other dancers. Generous with opportunities for other Fringe shows to come do a guest spot and share the audience. Generous about being plugged into the larger Fringe and dance communities. And just generous about wanting everyone to have a good time, and feel like part of the conversation, whether they have a background in dance, or if this is the only time of year they ever see it.

Munger took the stage again for "64," dancing (and hobbling) to the hit Beatles tune - a man of/near 64 himself, and still spry and mischievous, showing no signs of slowing down. Another Munger-choreographed piece, "A Way Out," was danced by Dawn Strom. A flowing tattered white garment and Iranian classical music combined with stunning movements as Strom struggled against the patterns she found herself stuck in.

The evening ended with another whimsical take, "Hippopotamus: The Ballet" staged by Sharon Varosh not to music, but to selected animal poems by Hilaire Belloc. Chang and DeBlieck return with Diane Aldis, Thern Anderson, Julia Deetz, Sher Demeter, Becky Hiest, Jenn Henry, Melanie Nomura, Jen Stuttsman and Sarah Ann Weaver. The rhythms of the poems, and the animal movements suggested by their subjects, paraded around the stage - frog, rhino, polar bear, yak, and hippo. Munger and Varosh recited the nonsensical poems in formal garb off to the side of the stage. As the pace of the poems, and the overlapping of the texts and their refrains, increased, the flurry of movement and interaction between dancers did as well. All this lead to a big, silly finish, and all without the aid of a note of music. A clever way to end a spirited evening.

If you don't want to wait til next Fringe to get more Third Rabbit, they have showcases every other month at the Bryant Lake Bowl. Check out the schedule there for more.

I look forward to seeing what they what they come up with next.

Very Highly Recommended

Third Rabbit Dance on

Their show page

Fringe 2009 - 7:00 Tuesday - show #28

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