About the only kind of dancing I’ve seen lately has been the uninhibited bump and grind of the Co-op’s festivities or the occasional drunken frolicking on top of the Women’s Table. What a pleasure it was, then, to witness the overall professionalism and innovation of A Different Drum’s spring dance performance.
Combining a buoyant athleticism with artistic vision, A Different Drum offers a smorgasbord of styles, from modern, jazz and tap to break dancing — plus a number of exciting, unclassifiable pieces. The music varied from slower, haunting songs to upbeat, rock-the-house tempos, which the dancers reflected in the versatile choreography, all student-designed. The space at 70 Audubon St. is worth the hike. It is big enough to feel professional but small enough to get cozy. The production is well put-together; the excellent lighting helps manipulate the changing moods, and the costumes are artistic without distracting from the performances.
The pre-show dance introduces the playful inventiveness that characterizes the group. Three dancers roll around and cavort on stage, generating a series of expressive characters and entertaining displays. The first dance, “Axial Evolution,” paralleling two Moby songs, unfolds in a punctuated, cyclical fluidity. Sometimes the dancers move together in sweeping gestures, and sometimes they stand apart, performing their own unique motion, and yet the many parts join in a united whole. The complexity is stimulating, yet remains cohesive.
Some dances edge toward more integrative performance pieces, like “Desert, Stone and Light,” while some take a less serious approach. Highlights of this sort include a playful duo tap-dancing to the infamous Vinyls’ “I Touch Myself,” and a Britney Spears medley, complete with multiplying blonde wigs. During intermission four members of the group broke into a break dancing routine. These brave souls deserve applause for their efforts; compared to professional B-Boy dancers — the authentic terminology for break dancing — they have a long way to go.
While some dances are not entirely polished, they more than make up for it with their engaging performance and originality. One dance features traditional Maori Poi Balls, which look like miniature spinning planets. The dancer keeps adding ball after ball to her unique act until they are a fantastic blur zipping around her. Other creative dances make use of a number of props, like two small trampolines. In “Angry Dance,” a single dancer focuses around a large piece of rope. He is bound, yet rises above his captivity to create a striking series of artistic images without ever freeing himself. In “Analisi del Piede, Ottava Parte,” less is more: Small, accurately executed gestures make a big impact, and strategic clapping enhances the rhythmic pulsing. “Things I Gave Away” is evocative and lovely. The poised dancers convey a dichotomy of the mechanical and the organic that compose mankind.
In the finale most members of the company share the stage, and the choreography provides a rewarding balance of unity and individuality. The large alliance moving in unison is awe-inspiring, but then most dancers get a chance to be featured and show off their different talents. Especially impressive is a short solo of Irish step dancing.
It is an eye-opening experience to watch A Different Drum’s performance, which showcases a wealth of artistic innovation through a veritable poetry of motion.
A Different Drum
Friday at 9 and 11 p.m.
Saturday at 7 and 9 p.m.
70 Audubon St.