The Setup: June 7 marked the beginning of Suchu's three-weekend run of BOSK, Jennifer Wood's latest dance theater creation. Filled with bunnies, deer and alligators, BOSK is a zany whirlwind of a black comedy, emphasis on comedy.
The Execution: BOSK makes a strong first impression with its striking minimal set pieces in the form of seven stylized tree sculptures by Daniel Adame. They are placed as far downstage as props can possibly go, and create the impression of a papier-mâché forrest. Then the dancers enter the stage, and a frightful-voiced narrator tells of a semi-horrific tale of being killed by bunnies while in search of mythic deer. Laughter from the audience begins early on, and doesn't let up.
BOSK is presented in a narrative framework, but the story is not the main focus here; it's a tool used to release a wide-range of savvy movement. The choreography at times calls for rigid, angular spasms while at others it is dictated by the weight of the body thrown back and forth. The point of initiation also changes; in some sections the movement begins from the core, in others the fingers and feet lead. Fescennine's music is a great accompaniment and matches the shifts in mood perfectly.
And speaking of moods, these woodland inhabitants are some temperamental creatures, especially the bunnies. When they take the stage for the first time, they are docile, timid little things. They paw the air, jut their heads in all directions to survey their locale and bounce around like Energizer Bunnies on acid. They're even funnier when they turn sassy, and hit ironic hot-bunny poses to electro beats. The posse eventually goes gangsta, charging downstage then upstage before dropping-it-like-its-hot and backing-that-thang-up. All while wearing jumbo-sized rabbit ears, mind you.
There is also a herd of deer to be noted, a herd of languorous, prodding, faux-regal deer to be exact. These deer stutter before they leap, and prance as if their upper bodies are made of jelly. What's so great about these scenes is that the dancers make their characters elegant even in their parody. With their deer-in-the-headlight faces, we laugh with them as if we've been given access to an inside joke.
For all its levity, there is an ominous energy that runs throughout the dance that lends a bit of weighted gravity. The dark, wood-like atmosphere steers the audience from getting too lost in the fun and games. After all, death is around the corner.
And something must be said about the Suchu Dance company members, so tireless in their limitless energy and so fun in their comedic timing. All seven dancers were uniform in the level of their robust and mystifying dance. I feel like I must name them just for the sake of hi-fiving their wonderful work on this show. Shanon Adams, Ashley Horn, Sarah Leung, Aileen Mapes, Leo Munoz, Tina Shariffskul, Prudence Sun. Thanks y'all.
The Verdict: In addition to its many charms, BOSK is also special because it's the last show the company will perform at its previous home of the Barnevelder Theater. It's an end of an era, but Suchu is leaving on an especially high note. I'm excited to see what spaces Wood will explore, and what adventures she will take us on next.
BOSK runs through June 22 at Barnevelder Theater, 2201. Tickets are pay what you can. For information, visit www.suchudance.org.