Aug 19, 2011 at South Point Casino
The joy of richly-experienced performers pervaded the cozy stage as the 14 international dancers revealed intimate memories of their dance careers.
Audition fears, inspiration sources, performance experiences, and personal reasons for dancing were questions asked and answered through dance and live recitation.
Among the standout acts were Don Bellamy’s recollection of dancing with Alvin Ailey and sacrificing electrical service for dance shoes; the full company demonstrating the humorous side to auditioning (featuring terrific breakdancing); Tony Coppola’s tap solo and percussion work; and the hip hop-styled “Money”, which elucidated the challenging costs of classes, shoes, rehearsal space, agents and costumes.
Top acts in the show were “Big Spender”, “I Wanna Be A Dancin’ Man” and “Love 2 Dance”.
“Big Spender”, danced and acted by statuesque former showgirls Liz Eliot Lieberman, Lynn Martin Fouce and Karlyn Zambrotta, incorporated Fosse-style choreography and clever banter based on their true life stories. It was the most delightful and enchanting act of the night.
“I Wanna Be A Dancin’ Man”, a group chair dance, was well-conceived, well-sung, tight and concise.
“Love 2 Dance” featured each dancer stating what he or she felt when dancing, and then soloing to his or her preferred rhythm, played live on drums by Coppola. An engaging chance to get to know the dancers, and the first indication of the wide variety of dance training among the cast.
The show’s strengths were the variety of musical and dance styles, the technique of the dancers, Coppola’s percussion playing and the live storytelling. The weaknesses of the show were the costumes, the length of numbers, the ‘Q&A’ structure – and the live storytelling.
Music styles ranging from hip hop to standards, and dance styles from ballet to hip hop, varied the visual and aural experience. The dancers’ technique shone for the most part (M&M aborted several lifts in the latter part of the show; fatigue could have been a factor). The personal stories were riveting, celebratory, tragic, inspiring and heartbreaking. The stuff of a great show.
Speaking or singing while dancing is extraordinarily difficult, and it was executed quite well. However, heavy breathing, an unavoidable result of dancing, was picked up by the mics, and was distinctly distracting. This may be something that their sound guy can smooth out.
Visually, the most disappointing aspect of the show was the lack of costume changes and color – dancers wore the same outfits for several numbers, and everything was black. Color livens a show. Melinda’s red dress in the finale was a relief, but it came too late.
Many of the numbers ran too long, and there were too many of them. The numbers and show would have more punch if shortened. Ruthless editing will achieve this.
M&M’s elder-characters were funny and would be an appropriate act in a variety show (assuming seniors aren’t offended by them). However, in the end, the elder-spoofing and Q&A structure were superfluous and jarring. Omitting them from this show, (yes, cutting all of it out) and letting each act flow seamlessly into the next would generate anticipation and mystery before each act. Each act would reveal an answer to an implied question – and that question might vary for each audience member, thereby having different meaning to each observer.
At the very least, M&M should cut the on-stage explanation of how they put the show together. If it has to be explained, then the show doesn’t stand on its own legs. This show can. An on-stage introduction is scaffolding — which should be removed once a structure is completed. Creator/director thought processes can be shared in director’s notes in the program.
This show has great ‘bones’, in the form of world-class performers with decades of experience. The Las Vegas community is fortunate to have creative, passionate performers who gather and craft original productions. “Love 2 Dance” is a nice concept and with further development will become a good show.
Audience: all ages