Mixing and mingling after the 60-something minute show, at downtown Vestas building on the third floor, I pause from devouring veggies, cheese, and wine for a moment to reflect, “I am in good company.” NW Dance Project’s audience comes off to me more friendly than the average crowd; folks are eager to chat me up while I simply stand alone, sipping wine. There is something to this, the show was definitely a feel-good affair, and we’re all happy to exist in this architectural monument. The building is tremendous.
We sat earlier on the bench-steps situated at the heart of the building. I can imagine frequent company meetings here, holiday parties, and daily lunch breaks when staff from different departments are able come together. Maybe this is why Artistic Director, Sarah Slipper was so inspired to hold her company show there. The energy is palpable: the building is a treat for those who do not work in it.
The company show in question is called IN GOOD COMPANY and it involves total collaboration between each performer. Eleven vignettes are strung together with fluidity, at least one piece is choreographed by each dancer. Three of them choreograph two pieces: Andrea Parson, Lindsey McGill, and Elijah Labay. But what I’m driving at is how it all came together as one. This gang has been working full-time together for a while, with the newest member rounding two years. Their intimacy, their capacity for teamwork is well demonstrated here.
The work is energetic and ripe with fanfare. The troop enters with black and white suits, a fusion of high school prom and classic butler. Their backdrop is this wealthy office, and so, this is what they have depicted in the narrative of their choreography. Set to classic songs, it deals with the dilemmas of the modern age, love, and gender identity, to the backdrop of Simon & Garfunkel, Frank Sinatra, The Mamas and the Papas, and many other crowd pleasures.
There is some built-in suspense with this three story drop and merely a glass ledge in between them and a horrible accident. They manage to keep a safe distance while performing certain signature NWDP throws and leaps.
Sketch comedy breaks through with Chaplinesque character drama, graceful prat falls, and neatly depicted situations. There is interactivity, especially during The Future Face of Rubber Gloves bit, earning roars of laughter from the audience. Typically, a fine arts scene holds the applause between sections, carefully observing, but after that half-way point, the gloves were off in the best way with hands clapping. Standing ovation is volunteered without hesitation.
Holiday vibes are all over this one. Not one holiday song, yet it is perfect for a December show. It is something about the innocence of the holidays, family values, and the opportunity to strengthen love and to become cozy that seems to prevail through the modern era—the “Mad Men Era”, 20th century romance. We exist today in a post-post-modern madhouse. And I yearn for that bygone era. But so long as I see it, live in the flesh from these folks, I am comforted.
Special props to Ching Ching Wong for offering so much energy and for being totally engaged with the mood of each step, like an actor, expressing each moment through her face. Very few dancers pull that off with all kinds of acrobatics at the same time. Andrea Parson always has a way of stealing the show with her zen focus and ability to become light as a feather, seizing herself to those that throw and carry her about the stage.
Last but not least, Viktor Usov delivered a great performance, quite strong and present. He received the only Princess Grace Award given to a man in 2014. While I felt that every dancer presented themselves in top form with excellent teamwork, my eyes were primarily on these three.