On posters featuring a gorgeous brunette flying through the air in a flowing red dress, the latest debut from A Different Drum at the Off Broadway Theater guarantees to put the viewer in a state of blissful serenity. Fortunately, the show fulfills the posters’ promise. An exhilarating mix of ballet, melodic music and dark, edgy themes, “Sweet Dreams” achieves downright orgasmic beauty. Although it has some electropop and a traditional African song, the show aligns itself with the surreal, tranquil tones of instrumental melodies.
The routines are categorized into a sequence of themes, all pertaining to dreams. Spine-chilling sensations are collected under the title of “Being Chased.” “Airport, Arrival Gate” stands alone under the mast of “Flying and Falling,” just like the isolation it portrays so successfully as a lonesome girl siting in an airport terminal watches a throng of people dance by. For some pieces, it is easy to connect them to their theme. But for others, the themes get lost in the movements of the dance.
Who has not dreamt of going to school in their underwear? The “Exposed” series is based on the idea, but rather than simply feature dancers in their underwear, the piece uses the dream as an occasion to explore the vulnerabilities that we try to hide from the world. Whether you can understand the theme or not, eventually the careful arrangement of the show matters little when the dancers take the stage, determined to woo the audience with their fabulous moves.
Although “Sweet Dreams” does dynamic tricks with colored lights, overall, the lighting design does not match the level of the performance. Often, a harsh light from the left destroys the surreal beauty the show tries so hard to achieve. Derek DiMartini ’13 and Sara Protasi ’14 perform a piece rife with sexual tension called “Contact.” The routine starts out well with a spotlight on the two central figures but ultimately fails to reflect the pair’s sensational eroticism due to bland, uniform lighting.
Despite some minor rhythmic missteps, the show has an exquisite melancholy which lingers in the memory. For the particularly picky, “Dreams” may fail to hit its mark. It’s like “Inception”: The ambitious dance company, like Chris Nolan, aims to create a phantasmagoric allure but end up creating needless confusion. Often too many dancers crowd the stage when a few could do a much better job of captivating the viewer. The solo or duo performances often stand out much more than the ones which feature a group of half a dozen dancers.
The show means business: The dancers know how to move, and they are not afraid to show it. Nyasha George MED ’12 takes on searing sensuality fused with desperate depression to create a electric performance in “Strength of Tears.” Among other notables, look out for “Here Comes the Sun,” a beautiful ballet piece performed by Elizabeth Eddy ’11.
All in all, the members of the dance company have the spunk and creativity to keep the audience entertained, resulting in a performance that captures the gossamer softness of a peaceful sleep — the stuff of sweet dreams.