Plano — REJECTED, says the lobby billboard in boldface: the work that critics don’t want you to see.
Am I to take the bait?
8 & 1 Dance Company’s Rejected gathered up nine works ready for the trash heap but apparently too dear to ditch. Nine of choreographer and artistic director Jill S. Rucci’s rejected works were given another go Sunday night at the Courtyard Theatre.
Was she picking up the banner of Salon des Refusés, that rebel outfit that snubbed the official Paris Salon in 1863 to put together its own exhibition—one that included works by Courbet, Cezanne, Pissarro, Whistler and Manet’s scandalous Lé Dejeuner sur l’herbe (The Luncheon on the Grass)?
Or was she thinking of how many times Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, for example, was rejected—along with hundreds of other works by novelists, poets, playwrights, composers, actors, choreographers and dancers?
In case we are lax in remembering that every work had been rejected, the program lays it down with a heavy trowel. Introducing every work, host M. J. Moody points out why a particular work was rejected, how everyone experiences rejection whether it is a date or a job, how on the way to the airport, when he was to appear in NCIS New Orleans, he was told that he was no longer needed.
Mr. Moody is actually quite entertaining if not always great in enunciating his words, and gives the show a little needed punch. (The printed program was another nice touch: torn-off spiral notebook pages with cross-outs, arrows, images of a wine glass and a spider web, and squiggles.)
As for the nine dances, there is a certain style: overwrought. Big, looping leaps, heads flung backward, spirals, corkscrews, pumping arms, headstands, somersaults and—out of nowhere—fouettés. Yes, fouettés.
Some of it was marginally entertaining, but just about everything could have used more polish. One movement jerked into the next and perish the thought that anything could be lyrical. It was MTV fare, sort of. The music? Pop and hip-hop.
Heavy Hunt was the work most rejected. Lots of running, lots of pumping arms and lots of leaps made a display of energy, but not much else. Near the end, two dancers lie on the ground, a third walks over them, touches them to discover blood and coolly walks away.
The best work, Tangled Web—or rather, the first section—has Chad Geiger, Tyrik Patterson and David Cross take their places on folding chairs. To gritty music (Jeffrey Wright’s “I Am a Man”) each man comes forth showing attitude in hip-hop style, sliding to the side, as the torso ripples and limbs jerk in isolation. In hat and high-tops, Mr. Patterson is a standout, appearing as though the hinges on his joints are about to give out.
In the second part of Tangled Web, the “Queen Bees” (Lauren Daniels, Hannah Fozkos, Kendra Reynolds, McKenzie Rollinson, and Shelby Stanley) invade the men’s territory on slinky tiptoes to Barbra Streisand’s “Ain’t No Man.” And like bees, they drive the men away.
The show ends letting each dancer do his or her own thing: for Ms. Stanley it is putting on pointe shoes and letting loose with ronds de jambe; for Mr. Cross, more somersaults and corkscrew turns; for Kyra McCarty, gyrating hips. Fix You, the title says, and that it did.
» Margaret Putnam has been writing about dance since 1980, with works published by D Magazine, The Dallas Observer, The Dallas Times Herald, The Dallas Morning News, The New York Times, Playbill, Stagebill, Pointe Magazine and Dance Magazine.
» Read our interview with Jill Rucci about Rejected