It would be easy to characterize Rob Kitsos' Males Do That, from Rockhopper Dance's second annual On the Side program, as a "guy dance." Full of slapping butts and bumping chests, with faux homophobic comments about ballet and clips from The Full Monty, it's funny enough to get by just on the jokes. Alongside the humor, though, are long sequences of juicy movement drawing from a wide variety of sources: contact improvisation, sports, hip-hop, jazz, and even the maligned ballet, performed with a good-natured virtuosity by Kitsos with Scott Davis, Robert Gregory, and Matt Mulkerin.
Freehold Theater, East Hall ends September 23
Wade Madsen is another choreographer who frequently combines sophisticated structures with satirical or campy images. In his piece Mom & Dad, the couple's anticipation of each other's timing indicates they have been dancing together for a long time, but Madsen lets us know the relationship isn't always ballroom-smooth. Love may indeed be "lovelier the second time around," but their abrupt resetting and returning to the beginning of a phrase is increasingly disturbing as it repeats several times, both in the tape collage and in the choreography. While Madsen and partner Alison Cockrill make hay with some ballroom-dance conventions, their couple will obviously still be together at the end of the evening. Although we may smile at his blue ruffled shirt and suburban-rec-room frug or her samba in knee-length chiffon, this is an affectionate look backward at parents all dressed up for a party.
In Shawn Hove's Grey, the distinction between abstract movement and literal gesture is sometimes quite blurred. An extended arm can be a response to a musical cue, a barrier, a weapon, or all three, depending on your point of view. Contexts in this trio shift, so that a movement sequence looks furtive when it's performed by one person in front of the other two but appears innocent as a unison phrase. Is a soloist trying to disrupt a relationship by insinuating herself in between them, or just dancing down the center of the space? This ambiguity continues through the piece, so that by the end we're not sure if we've seen flashes of storytelling performed by Vy Duong, Aaron Ferschke, and Courtney Ryan, or if we've just made it all up.
The second edition of On the Side, which also includes works by Scott Davis and Pablo Cornejo, Pamela Gregory, Alex Martin, and Deborah Wolfe, delivers a wildly varied evening of dance and choreography.