Powerful: Suchu Dance's Masters of Semblance

The setup: No programs, no caveats, and no explanations precede Suchu Dance's Masters of Semblance. Even the set has just one element -- the gray table sitting askew on the marley floor. You're pretty much left alone to decide what exactly is going on.

The execution: Luckily, the eight dancers who fill the stage, bringing with them chairs and plenty of artistic athleticism, offer more than enough material for your imagination. Decked in mismatched animal print (a giraffe skin top and brown paisley pants, for one), the dancers wander aimlessly before placing their chairs around the table.

You start to see snatches of workaday life onstage, from typing hands to glazed, vacant eyes. But the context changes as the piece flows, and suddenly, you're in a living room. The dancers stare straight ahead vacantly as their thumbs operate imaginary remote controls, clicking faster until they enter into whole body spasm sessions, like they're playing Wii on crack. Amusing and disturbing moments like these are punctuated by equally compelling modern dance, with women partnering men as much as the men hold the women.

One section is a modern-day love story, a tiny dancer with hair à la Cindy Lou Who paired with a man twice her size. Neither is able to successfully hold the other, and by the end of the relationship, both look exhausted and unhappy.

The verdict: Masters of Semblance is a powerful production, one that leaves the audience wondering if modernity makes you somewhat of a wreck.

This show ran last weekend at Barnevelder Theater.

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Mandy Oaklander
Contact: Mandy Oaklander