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BWW Review: STORIES at Casino De Paris

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A tap and theatre dance most original.

BWW Review: STORIES at Casino De Paris

Resheduled from Friday March 13th, just before the first French lockdown, to Friday October 23rd, barely a week before the second lockdown, we had the privilege to attend a real live theater dance show at the legendary Casino de Paris re-imagined with social distancing for the occasion: A living proof that live entertainment can still happen during the pandemic after having been deprived of it for over seven months, just like the rest of the world. These seven months have felt more like seven years which made Stories even more enjoyable and the curtain call speech of its creator Romain Rachline about enjoying the simple pleasures of the moment even more moving.

BWW Review: STORIES at Casino De Paris

Starting off his career with tap-dancing at a very young age, Romain moved on to jazz dancing, joining Rosella Hightower's Dance Academy in Cannes before traveling to the States, where he trained with Alvin Ailey School and at Broadway Dance Center. After performing in New York with 360° Dance Company, he moved back to France to join the company of Dance of the Vampires directed by Roman Polanski at Mogador followed by Singin' in the Rain and 42nd Street at Théatre Du Châtelet directed by Stephen Mear.

BWW Review: STORIES at Casino De Paris

Starting to choreograph himself in 2016 for the Champs Elysées Film Festival ceremony, and already showing his fascination with the movie world, Rachline then choreographed for Disneyland Paris and started writing music of his own for short films and eventually for the musical A Cuba Libre, for which he served as lyricist and choreographer as well.

BWW Review: STORIES at Casino De Paris

Creating the RB Dance Company in 2018 to develop his mix of tap dancing and urban jazz, part of his Stories was showcased in a popular French TV contest show "La France a un incroyable talent", making it to all the way to the finals.

Stories is brilliantly told through Rachline's personal dance vocabulary, using traditional tap-dancing steps mixed with contemporary street jazz to his own urban music and quasi rap vocals. It follows the path of Icarus, a young actor on the way up who gets caught up in an oppressive relationship with his own director, ultimately becoming his prisoner.

BWW Review: STORIES at Casino De Paris

Enhanced by a very cinematic scenic design by Frederica Mugnai, who, as in most contemporary Broadway show, uses moving sets, together with effective lightning designed by Alex Hardellet, Stories brilliantly achieves the challenge of telling a story without words. With multiple references to the narrative dancing developed by the likes of Jerome Robins (West Side Story) and Michael Kidd (Guys and Dolls and the movie The Band Wagon) whose crap game dance and girl hunt ballet are cleverly quoted by Romain.

By creating a link between the classical theater dancing of the late 40's 50's when the action is actually taking place as illustrated in the period costume by Margaux Ponsard and Janie Loriault and what is definitely contemporary music and modern staging, Racheline manages to create a bridge across several generational gaps, bringing tap-dancing to the today's younger audience in a resolutely innovative way.

Served by superbly talented cast of dancer-actors (headed by Enzo Boffa in the part of Icarus), Stories, with its mix of light and dark, constitutes the perfect antidote to the Covid blues. It really was a privilege to see this brilliant company live dancing on the Parisian stage. It would be interesting to see what Romain Racheline, with his gift for narrative and theatrical dancing, would deliver if assigned to choreograph full-fledged Broadway show! For all its film noir ambiance similar to that of Cy Coleman work, City of Angels would be the perfect choice...

In the meantime look out for the tour dates of Stories, following those two magical performances at the Casino de Paris . . . when the government allows for it!

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From This Author Patrick Honoré