By Pat Launer
Here’s the premise: Michael Mizerany called his evening of dance “Dancer Briefs.” He invited seven local choreographers to participate. And he asked three things of them: their piece had to be brief (6-8 minutes); it had to include the wearing of undergarments; and something had to be revealed: physical, psychological or emotional.
The participants rose to the challenge, and the result is a delightful hour of eight dance performances, spanning a range of genres, from modern to tap to hip hop, balletic to acrobatic. Woven into the choreography is drama and comedy, whimsy and sexuality.
One of the evening’s highlights is Mizerany’s stunning “Via Dolorosa” (commissioned by Diversionary Theatre) that features the spectacular moves of the riveting Chad Ortiz. This dance of suffering and supplication, bearing a heavy burden and ending in crucifixion, is magnificent and heart-rending.
Ortiz, a virtuosic performer, also choreographed a solo for himself, the premiere of “Is This What You Want?,” a melancholy piece about a pre-performance drag queen in runny mascara and gender-concealing underclothes contemplating life choices.
The clever “Game On” is a tap competition between two ace tapper/choreographers Sidney Franklin and Katie Amarillas. The ‘game’ could be called ‘Strip Tap.’ In this anything-you-can-do rivalry, any error results in the loss of an item of clothing. The buildup is slow and somewhat repetitive. It isn’t until the dancers are down to their underwear that the real, showy tap happens.
Anne Gehman’s “Left Eye, Right ‘I’” is a clever pas de deux, with rubbery Sandra Ruiz and Jaime Nixon intertwining and undulating in a heavy-breathing sexual entanglement.
Lara Segura’s premiere, “It’s Always the Quiet Ones,” is a sexual fantasy Segura performs, starting out in puppy-dog flannel PJs and ending with a whip to perfectly apt music (Tori Amos’ “Leather” and “Amy Amy Amy” by Amy Winehouse).
Erick Costell and Travis Ti are literally jaw-dropping in their co-created premiere, “Marqué.” Two peacoat-clad men (sans pants) meet on a subway. One has GAY scrawled on his chest; the other, STRAIGHT. Their mesmerizing, amazing, gravity-defying acrobatic moves (what they call ‘acra-adagio’) repeatedly garner stupefied applause. Moment after moment, move after move, you can’t help wondering ‘How do they do that?’ (balance on each other’s calf or thigh or support both bodies on one hand). Nothing short of amazing, a dazzling amalgamation of modern dance and circus arts.
The hip hop premiere, “Disclosure” (choreographed by Grace Shinhae Jun), isn’t quite up to the quality of the other pieces.
In the final piece, a premiere called “Tous les Memes,” choreographed by Bradley R. Lundberg and danced (wonderfully) by Erica Ruse and Justin Viernes, a couple, accompanied by French songs, come together and move apart, sharing a hat, a vest, and maybe and identity. The stylized hand movements are especially wonderful. This pairing is superb: two fun-to-watch, agile, expert dancers in a push me/pull you relationship.
If you’re a dance lover, you’ll undoubtedly find something to love. Once again, Mizerany proves himself to be as adept as a producer as a dancer and choreographer.
- “Dancer Briefs” runs through June 14 at ion’s BLKBOX Theatre, 3704 6th Avenue in Hillcrest
- Performances are Thursday-Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.
- Tickets ($20-$25) are available online at dancerbriefs.brownpapertickets.com
- Running time: 1 hr. 45 min., without intermission
Pat Launer is a long-time San Diego arts writer and an Emmy Award-winning theater critic. An archive of her previews and reviews can be found at www.patteproductions.com.