Wednesday, March 02, 2005

The "Attack" of Attack Theatre at Barnevelder

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Michele de la Reza, Dave Eggar, Peter Kope
Photo by Sarah Higgins

One way to liven up your modern dance concert is to have a live rock band on stage. Attack Theatre, of Pittsburgh, tempted the audience with several high energy ways of getting our attention, including a band.

Boxed in (2002) mixes film and live performance with a gritty gusto. A program note suggests a story involving a relationship, a remote control gone wrong, and a musician trapped in a boxing ring. I prefer to make up my own. On that note, Boxed in examines the idea of control, the loss of control, and the control of control. Perhaps the piece points to the human tendency to create security through containers that, in the end, don’t work as well as promised. Whatever the piece is ultimately about, it’s exciting to watch. And about that rock band, Dave Eggar’s score added zest, dimension, and intensity. The band, Eggar, Tom Papadatos (percussion), Tom Pirozzi (bass) rocked the house throughout the show.

The choreography by Peter Kope and Michele de la Reza, contained a kind of all out fierceness that played well against the artsy film sequences. Performances by Kope, de la Reza, and Jill Stifel matched the intensity of the music. Kope and de la Reza, both handsome and substantive dancers, bounced off each other with magnetic energy. de la Reza danced with a richly textured clarity that is heavy on the intense end of the spectrum. For Boxed in, it worked. It’s in the risky partnering that Attack Theatre earned its name. Kope and de la Reza threw themselves at each other with precise abandon (if there is such a thing), and managed to create drama without killing one another. I haven’t seen such terrifically exciting partnering in a while. Video by Nick Fox-Gieg, Chas Marsh, and Dax Parise added intrigue and made for potent contrasts with the live dancing.

The second piece, The Fitting Room, didn’t seem to fit well into the evening. The idea of changing one’s world by changing the outfit has been done. Still, the dancing was fabulous, and the band, again, just great. Houston will gladly welcome this multi-talented troupe of Pittsburghers any time.