If you are not sure what to expect from modern dance, go see Zenon Dance Company at the Southern Theater; the performance will exceed any expectations you might have.
Zenon Dance Company, performing through April 27 at the Southern Theater, 1420 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis. For information and tickets ($25), see southerntheater.org.
The performance starts strong with a bold performance, “Hard Bargain,” by the men of the group: Bryan Godbout, Eddie Oroyan, Stephan Schroeder, and Gregory Waletski. The dance was a humorous exhibition of muscle flaunting, face slapping, and mock punching combined with music that takes the viewer to another time. Imagine Shakespeare, or Greek soldiers. This world premiere by choreographer Sean Curran is a ballet of fighting.
In contrast, the next piece—performed by Amy Elaine Behm Thomson and Gregory Waletski—is a showcase of love. The dancers are extremely sensual, sharing playful looks with the audience and one another. Exotic claves and soulful guitar morph into a groovy lounge funk in this fun-to-watch dance, “The Secret Life of Walt and Kitty” by choreographer Cathy Young.
The mood turns more introspective in the piece, “Where are these days, again?” choreographed by Jeanine Durning. This world premiere is an adaptation of Durning’s most recent work, “Ex-Memory: waywewere.” The disjointed movements of the women in this dance (Amy Elaine Behm Thomson, Mary Ann Bradley, Christine Maginnis, and Tamara Ober) lend the dancers the aspect of broken dolls. Featuring regular repetition in sounds and movement and androgynous dress, this piece with an industrial feel is the most intense dance of the evening.
“Like an Octopus,” the next piece, is as intoxicating as the smoke that sets the stage for the dance. Choreographed by Susana Tambutti, the piece is bold, unique, and amazingly concise. Dancers Tamara Ober and Gregory Waletski move like magnets across the stage, pulling, pushing and mirroring one another in movements so exact, you can’t take your eyes away.
“Garden” is the perfect end to the performance: a beautiful, fluid dance choreographed by Wynn Fricke. Dancers Amy Elaine Behm Thomson, Mary Ann Bradley, Bryan Godbout, Christine Maginnis, Tamera Ober, Stephan Schroeder, and Gregory Waletski flutter around the stage like falling leaves. The bodies of the dancers open and spread like flowers blooming. The music is symphonic, and the whole performance is like a garden party with Puck.
The Southern Theater is a perfect setting for the performance. The brickwork and broken proscenium of the old stage add to the distinctive feeling of each piece. At the performance I attended, the audience roared with whistles, shouts, and clapping as the dancers took their bows. This impressive performance should not be missed.
Melissa Slachetka contributes regularly to the Daily Planet.