Opening Nights: A Glimmer . . .

This interactive dance show is the kind of party where everyone seems a bit drunker than you.

Choreographer KT Niehoff has long tried to remove theatrical barriers, getting dancers and audiences to interact in a way that deepens the experience for both. Her Lift, in 2007, exited the theater altogether in favor of the sidewalk and a series of unscripted encounters in which Lingo dancers helped passersby walk uphill, literally supporting them from behind as the pedestrians leaned back into the dancers' arms. For the final installment of her lengthily titled, months-long project, A Glimmer of Hope or Skin or Light—which has included museum installations and a series of made-to-order solos performed for individuals all over the city—Niehoff has staged a tour-de-force glam-rock revue. These evenings in the ACT cabaret space are full of long-legged showgirls who call everyone "sweetie" and a core ensemble of dancers who are both guests and gladiators. It's the kind of party where everyone seems a bit drunker than you.At first you just wander around chatting. Eventually the dancers sort themselves out from the watchers, and it's your job to steer clear of them during a series of stylized encounters in which they act out extreme versions of the encounters you've had since you arrived, extending them with material that either comes from your fantasies or your nightmares.In the subtitle to Glimmer, Niehoff claims that "every interaction holds untapped potential," but she doesn't say if those encounters will always end well. Aaron Swartzman looks gaunt in one of the post-apocalyptic baroque costumes by Niehoff and Ricki Mason, and perseverance becomes violence as he hauls Mason around the floor.The venues in this multipart project have been so disparate and the setups so varied that it can be hard to uncover any thematic, or other, continuity. But after a while, we see the fine-tuned articulation in Kelly Sullivan's back as she serves a drink to one of her solo audiences at the Tin Table, takes a backbend apart in the Kentridge Gallery at SAM, and leads a gaggle of those showgirls at ACT with a peremptory twitch. And Niehoff, who until now has been an invisible presence at most of the Glimmer events, here sings backup for the band Ivory in Ice World. For someone who's been spending the past several years trying to subvert the theatrical experience, she can certainly use it when it suits her.

 
comments powered by Disqus