Dates and Venue 22 & 24 February at 8pm; 23 February at 2pm & 7.30pm | Norman & Annette Rothstein Theatre

Dancers Tina Finkelman Berkett, Christopher Bordenave, Melissa Bourkas, Gina Lewis, Kalin Morrow, Cooper Neely, Miquel Perez, Guzman Rosado, Yusha-Marie Sorzano and Andrew Wojtal

Choreography Barak Marshall, Hofesh Shechter and Richard Siegal Costumes Raquel Barreto, Linda Chow, Rita di Lorenzo and Richard Siegal Lighting Design Kindred Gottleib, Chahine Tavroyan and Burke Wilmore

Reviewer John Jane

Chutzpah's Artistic & Managing Director Mary-Louise Albert was on hand at the Norman and Annette Rothstein Theatre last night (Feb 22) to open the 2014 Festival with BodyTraffic. As a former dance artist, it must have been extremely satisfying for her to see a near full house readily appreciate a tour-de-force performance by this Los Angeles based dance-theatre group.

Part dance, part theatre, And at midnight, the green bride floated through the village square is inspired by Israeli choreographer Barak Marshall’s real-life experience. Marshall’s work is as evocative as its curiously strange title. It has a linear narrative that is large on characterization, though a little light on structured dance syntax. To a recorded score that is mainly comprised of sirenical Jewish folk songs, the ten dancers (5 women, 5 men) display sensuous physicality to bring an aesthetic dimension to the dance’s pseudo-erotic themes of seduction and domination.

In contrast, Hofesh Shechter’s Dust is essentially non-linear, with aggressive syntax often appearing random and esoteric. Shechter’s own compelling industrial (sounding) score and Chahine Yavroyan’s dramatic lighting create a sensuous choreographic framework that offers a surreal experience for both audience and performer.

The programme ends with o2joy by Richard Siegal. As its title may suggest, it’s a playful, loosely choreographed jazz dance. Five dancers led by Tina Finkelman Berkett perform in quintet, trio and solo. The vocabulary almost seems tongue-in-cheek and might even be construed as a satirical homage to musical theatre. The accompanying soundtrack that includes jazz standards “All of me” by Billie Holiday and “Someone to watch over me” by Ella Fitzgerald is great!

This show was a wonderful way to kick-off the fourteenth annual Chutzpah Festival.

© 2014 John Jane