BWW Review: BEYOND BABEL
BEYOND BABEL, the new dance production from choreographers Keone and Mari and playing through December 16th is an outstanding show that everyone should see before it closes.
(I am assuming you have read the first line and gone and bought tickets already, but if you need more information than please read on.)
This show follows a loose outline of Romero and Juliet, but with some deeper exploration into the borders between people, politics, love, and loss. Told entirely using West Coast Urban style dance Keone and Mari lead a 12 person cast and evoke some stirring and emotional moments, along with some charmingly funny ones as well.
Group numbers are tight, syncopated, inventive, and creatively utilize the space in the entire theatre. Keone and Mari (you might have seen them choreograph numbers for the hit television shows "So You Think You can Dance" and "World of Dance") know how to craft each dance to express a specific vision, emotion, or plot point. From razor sharp isolations, to acrobatic flips and fence climbing, to incredibly tender numbers it runs a gamut of emotions. Though at times there is some vocalization there is no dialogue, and this intensely talented dance ensemble tells a complete story featuring multifaceted emotional arcs with impressive detail.
Though it takes elements from Shakespeare's classic tale of two lovers, this show forges its own path as the characters evolve. It has been a while since I honestly did not know how characters were going to react, what choices they would make, and kept me riveted up to the last moment of the show.
Performed in a 120 seat theatre on Imperial this is an intimate space where the audience feels a part of the action. The audience seats do move occasionally, pushing forward or back from the dancers. Really only used once effectively, when an enforcer character is facing off against the rest of the dancers, it otherwise is an unnecessary element. They have much more interesting and effective ways they show they can play with space, height, depth, and perspective using nothing more than some boxes, or the chain link fences set pieces.
The set is enhanced with custom crocheted pieces by artist London Kaye. The bright colors and designs add a softer element to some of the hard chain link, but also evoke the feeling of graffiti and street art to help set the scene. Accompanied by an excellent contemporary soundtrack with lighting and sound by Benjamin Heston, it all compliments what is happening on stage.
The plot and pacing of the first act needs some editing, but the second act is plotted and paced with a deft hand making it one of the most powerful and precise pieces I have seen in a while.
A full length show, this young and talented cast is fantastic, and I honestly have no idea how they have the energy (emotional or otherwise) these on multiple show days.
Offering up an emotionally complex, and deeply impactful show proving that dance, this company, and BEYOND BABEL, is a truly spectacular theatre experience not to be missed.
For ticket and show time information go to www.beyondbabelshow.com
Photo Credit: Aiden Gibney