I don't really get dance as an art form. It never seems to click for me. Granted, I've seen very, very little of it live, but my attempts to watch classic ballets on video have all left me very much of the same mind as David Byrne. So there's little chance I would have intentionally gone to see the triple-bill of "percussive dance" (i.e., dancing with lots of stomping) at Prospect Park last night, but since I evidently can't read, I ended up in the park and decided to give it a go.
First up was Darrah Carr Dance, which I'm sure to educated dance audiences comes off as something more interesting than Riverdance minus the slick production values. They kept the artificial perkiness and that godawful canned synth-Celt music, though, so I don't think there is any possible way I could have enjoyed this, regardless of how skilled the dancers may have been.
My expectations were not much higher for the tap troupe of Andrew J. Nemr & CPD Plus because... well, you know... it's, ah, tap dancing. But their casually stylized, kind of quaintly streetwise movements (if that makes sense) were not nearly as silly as I thought they'd be, and the dancers really sold it -- especially that young kid from Jersey. The physicality was great and the tapped rhythms were impressively tight, but also pretty predictable. (I almost said "pedestrian.") There was one (wholly unexpected) exception -- "Freedom Jazz Dance," which, after the head, turned into an improvised duet between Nemr and the troupe's trumpet player (whose name I didn't catch). I say this fully cognizant of the fact that you will never, ever believe me when I tell you that someone tap dancing to "Freedom Jazz Dance" was actually good. But it was. Unfortunately, their closer was "We Didn't Start The Fire." Is there a worse tune in the entire Billy Joel oevre? If there is, I'd very much appreciate it if you would kindly refrain from letting me know about it.
I might have left the park as soon as I realized I wouldn't be seeing Robert Glasper and DJ Logic, but I was intrigued by the possibility of experiencing a real Spanish flamenco company live and in the flesh. Noche Flamenca did not disappoint. They made the other two groups look irredeemably silly, in no small part because all the music was (A) played live (by two guitarists and two singers), and (B) unbelievably killing. Actually, this was one of the most riveting performances I've ever seen -- solemn but smoldering, virtuosic without empty flashiness, the emotions terrifically outsized but without veering into melodrama.
Noche Flamenca are at Theater 80 until July 29, and I highly, highly recommend checking them out.
More pics below the fold...