Tomorrow night marks the conclusion of Suchu Dance's three-weekend Comedy Dance Festival, a new venture for the company that tickles dance's often unrealized funny bone. The festival is a fundraiser to help Suchu Dance move into the next chapter of its long-running operation; Jennifer Wood and company's current home at 3480 Ella will be demolished, and they are set to move out of the space this September. The Comedy Dance Festival includes three distinct programs featuring current and past Suchu dancers performing excerpts from past full-length shows, as well as a fun and light-hearted line-up of guest performers.
The festival's second weekend was appropriately titled Program Awesome. Each program functions in part as an example of what the company's greatest hits collection might look like. Program Awesome featured a segment from Bosk, in which docile bunnies morph into the more rabid variety. Adorned with giant rabbit ears, the group embodied the skittish mannerisms of bunnies exploring a new environment. Things get weird fast, as the innocuous mammals become enraged and turn into slow-motion Hulk caricatures hell-bent on destroying everything in their path.
This iteration of Bosk saw the addition of another rabbit performed by Alex Soares. Dressed in a bathrobe and toting a bundle of oversized characters, he makes his way around the scene incredulously, as if a smart-mouthed Bugs Bunny were dropped into a pack of Easter Bunnies in training. He engaged one of the meeker bunnies in a dual of innuendo-filled jokes to hilarious effect.
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If dance is supposed to be fun, then Shchelkunchik is all that and more. Leo Munoz and Alex Soares prance and preen in an over-the-top display of male-diva extravagance, and are later joined by Tina Shariffskul and Prudence Sun in a feel-good ditty of pronounced hips and exaggerated coquettishness. The movement is silly, irreverent, and happy-go-lucky, but not in the least bit disposable.
Program Awesome's guest performer was native Houstonian Corian Ellisor. Now a dance artist in Decatur, Georgia, Ellisor made a return to present Identified, a drag expose about the necessity to dress up in order to identify the unvarnished. Funny bits aside, including a too-true dig at identify failure Rachel Dolezal, his piece evolved into a heartfelt solo that made use of Ellisor's fine movement quality. His solo revealed the importance of being content in one's skin, even while occasionally indulging in dressing it up.
The Comedy Dance Festival is a nice reminder that when motion envelops the human body, very funny things can happen. These modified excerpts offered glimpses of past gems and made me want to see some in their entirety once again. (Bosk immediately comes to mine, as does Shchelkunchik). Tomorrow night sees the conclusion of the festival with Program Brilliant. Suchu Dance's Prudence Sun, Sarah Leung, and Jennifer Wood will be joined by Fly Dance Company's Jorge Casco, and guest artists Annie Arnoult, Alisa Mittin, Lori Yuill, Abby Flowers, and Toni Valle.
The Comedy Dance Festival runs through January 27. For more information, visit Suchu Dance's Web site.