Four-leaf clovers, broken mirrors, Friday the 13th, and knocking on wood inspired A Different Drum’s fall dance show, aptly titled “Supersition.” At times overly-silly but otherwise sincere, the show entertains with its off-the-wall interpretations, but is rarely subtle.
The show, artistically directed by Elizabeth Eddy ’11 and overseen by company president Sarai Itagaki ’11, is framed by superstitions, with four interludes, each of which portrays a different wife’s tale, separating the dance numbers. The performance opens with a dancer who reads aloud from a poem as two other dancers act out the narrative. This introduction describes two dancers extinguishing a fire — ultimately hinting at the fire safety rules in the Off Broadway Theater where the show is held. The mood appears lighthearted, yet as the show progresses moments of seriousness and even melancholy punctuate the jesting.
From the very beginning of the first act, A Different Drum’s eccentric style is evident. The dances combine elements of technical skill and movement with playful, dramatic — at times, too dramatic — reenactments of the lyrics of the songs accomapnying each dance.
In a dance entitled “Big Bad,” choreographed by Kat Zukaitis DIV ’11, Laurel Hunt ’11 plays Little Red Riding Hood. Four other dancers don fake fur and chase Hunt around stage. She fluidly and gracefully leaps and rolls around stage to avoid the wolves. The concept, costumes and music successfully turn the narrative into movement. To the uninitiated audience member, this piece seems to be an unexpected nod to the avant-garde.
But there are times when the interpretations get a little too literal. Rather than taking the elements of a song as inspiration, the dances sometimes focus too closely on reenacting the themes in the music. In “My Zombina,” the dancers perform a piece during which they hold their arms out as though they are all zombies and stumble around. This dance seems almost too theatrical, as if the dancers have suddenly become actors in a bad horror film.
A Different Drum straddles the line between dancing and acting. One of the most striking pieces, “I Can’t,” is choreographed by Laure Flapan ’12 and tells the story of two lovers, depicted by Derek DiMartini ’13 and Itagaki.
DiMartini stands stoic and rigid in the center of the stage as Itagaki circles around him, with agitated motion and anguish in her eyes. As Ingrid Michaelson softly sings her cover of “Can’t Help Falling in Love” in the background, Itagaki reaches out for DiMartini, who fends off her advances. She extends her arm towards him one last time and her shaking hand stops just a few inches from his cheek. As she gives up — eyes closed, breathing heavily — and slowly steps away from him, DiMartini finally grabs her wrist. She turns back around, and they share a long gaze as the stage fades to black.
Genuine moments like this keep the show from becoming overly campy — particularly in the closing number set to the tune of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.” Choreographed by Itagaki, Eddy, Flapan, and Cathy Chamberlin ’12, the performance features all 23 dancers in the company dancing in lively unison. At times it appears that the dancers will collide with one another on the Off Broadway Theater’s small stage, but their close proximity, yet uninhibited movements, only adds to the spirit and energy.
Although corny at times, perhaps A Different Drum’s aesthetic is simply too forward-thinking for those seeking a more traditional dance experience.
“Superstition” will run at the Off Broadway Theater until Saturday.