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Dance Kaleidoscope Poured on the Laughs in 'Funny Bones'

by Rita Kohn
February 26, 2019
Indiana Repertory Theatre
140 W. Washington Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204
(317) 635-5252
Rita Kohn, member: Dance Critics Association, Authors Guild, Dramatists Guild
“Come laugh with us,” is the invitation that kept its promise at Dance Kaleidoscope’s mid-winter program Funny Bones, February 21 - March 3 at Indiana Repertory Theatre.

Act One’s “Make ‘em Laugh” premiered at the IndyFringe Festival August 20i8. The eight sketches choreographed by company dancers were a welcome tonic of laughter a half year ago. The joy doubled on the Indiana Repertory Theatre Upperstage, where the work got a refresh onto the larger thrust stage from the very intimate proscenium space at The District Theatre. With a new work, the gift is being able to experience it again while memory of first time remains fresh and a-ha moments double up.

Revisiting each reveals aspects I didn’t catch before, such as the intricate beauty of the feather segment in Brandon Comer’s sexy satire “Don’t Tell Mama” to Kander and Ebb’s "Cabaret". Manuel Valdes’ depiction of a school time “Recess” reverberates the frenzy and pull back of Bach’s Allegro segment of "Brandenburg Concerto". Memorable characterization is Paige Robinson’s forte in “Prom” to a set list of music to bring back episodes and characters we’d most often rather forget. Here we have it back in our face. Robinson then pays her due to Stuart Coleman’s “BruBlech” as a soloist finding her groove to Brubeck. Missy Thompson is on target for the Moon Landing 50th anniversary with a sharply framed “Out of This World” sci-fi episode right out of outer-space reality. The ensemble scintillates. Timothy June’s “Naptown Misfits” is totally humanitarian. Meghan Trainor’s music of empowerment definitely powers anyone’s right to strut your stuff. Who says it’s subpar when you know it’s your best? June has us chewing on this. Randy Rainbow is centerstage with Jillian Godwin’s “Commander of Cheese.” Parody was pared down in this version. “The Waiting Game” remains Mariel Greenlee’s opus. It’s a brilliant re-imagination of ‘waiting to be be waited on’ and its consequences to how we see each other in public. Having just experienced Ponchielli’s “Dance of the Hours” as a luscious, unfolding garden scene at the Indianapolis Ballet “Love is in the Air” program, Greenlee’s premise takes us into a wholly different realm with Impatience at its core. Each of the segments asked the company to shift style along with complete costume changes in the blink of an eye. Listen up, DK delivers more play time than does any football game.

If Hochoy had not excelled as a dancer, and now DK artistic director, he easily could have excelled as a musicologist. “Merry Mozart” is a sterling example of framing snippets from the Master’s familiar repertoire as a send-off between the Overture to “The Marriage of Figaro” and Serenade in D. In my review of Merry Mozart in Nov. 2008, I observed, “With “Merry Mozart” we experience a slice of street theater that engages with its over-the-top observations.” This piece had taken its shape at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival where, in the early 2000s, when the DK company was part of their Green Show. In 2008 “Merry Mozart” was on the IRT Upperstage as part of another comedic-based program. With this re-incarnation, I was reminded of how much the company has changed, what new layers they are revealing. Overall, once again I was in the midst of Mozart’s innate comedic flair taking form through layers of movement. Most enjoyable was the partnering this time around. When you’ve been watching over the years, it’s revelatory to be in the company of new relationships. Mariel Greenlee and Brandon Comer, both returning from injured list designation, paired sublimely with Mozart’s Clarinet concerto, giving respite after the Company opening with a frenzied glyph on the Overture to “The Marriage of Figaro.” Emily Dyson and Timothy June took on the sleight of hand flirtatious scene from Don Giovanni. Wagering on true love is what we laugh about with Cosi fan tutte—who gets the comeuppance is left up to interpretation. Stuart Coleman, Brandon Comer, Emily Dyson Jillian Godwin and Mariel Greenly pull it off without offense. Alaska Lukasiewicz and Stuart Coleman deliver shy intimacy with Piano sonata as the impetus for us to smile. Conflict and resolution are in perfect balance when Jillian Godwin and Cody Miley take on Non pic andrai from Figaro. Closing with the full company in Serenade in D is as luscious as a serving of Sachertorte. Mining Mozart’s bedrock of poignant humor, Hochoy continues to remind us that in every century and every decade, no matter where we live, humor is what will save us from the leaders we elect or who have been selected to ‘rule’ over us. Survival is serious business. The salve is humor.

The entire program is a delightful survey of who we are. Guy Clark’s adventurous costumes appear throughout. Laura E. Glover’s lighting pairs seamlessly, as does Mike Lamirand’s sound design. A nod as well to rehearsal director Liberty Harris. It’s no easy task to keep the integrity of nine choreographers in solid momentum.

Next up in the DK 2018-2019 season:

“See the Music, Hear the Dance” May 17 & 18, 8 p.m.; May 19, 2:30 p.m.

Schrott Center for the Arts, Butler Arts Center, where “The artistry of the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra and Dance Kaleidoscope harmonize in concert to present favorite orchestral works by Gershwin, Respighi and Ravel. 2017 American Pianists Association Award winner Drew Peterson will perform Rhapsody in Blue.”


Aug. 3 & 4; The Tarkington at the Center for Performing Arts, 1 Center Green, Carmel

August 15-25, DK dancers choreograph for the IndyFringe Festival, The Christel DeHaan Stage, The District Theatre, Mass Ave, Indianapolis

Tickets & more at: DanceKal.org; 317-940-6555
Mariel Greenlee and Stuart Coleman in 'Merry Mozart,' part of 'Funny Bones'.

Mariel Greenlee and Stuart Coleman in "Merry Mozart," part of "Funny Bones".

Photo © & courtesy of Chris Crawl


Emily Dyson and Timothy June in 'Merry Mozart,' part of 'Funny Bones'.

Emily Dyson and Timothy June in "Merry Mozart," part of "Funny Bones".

Photo © & courtesy of Chris Crawl

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