let’s keep dancing
by Douglas Messerli
Set to music sung by the incomparable Peggy Lee, the piece was danced by Berkett, Lorrin Brubaker, Joseph Davis, Haley Heckethorn, Natalie Leibert, Jessica Liu, Guzmán Rosado, and Jamal White, who worked singularly, in duos, and trios to bring what choreographer Matthew Neenan has described as his intent to demonstrate how even in the most difficult times—yes, “If That’s All There Is,” with its haunting refrain of “Let’s keep dancing” was among the songs to which they danced—“life is worth enjoying.” It was clearly one of the most popular works of the evening.
That work was followed by an excerpt from their popular “Fragile Dwellings,” choreographed by Belgian dancer Stijn Celis, dedicated to Los Angeles’ homeless population, and with music by Arvo Pãrt. The “dwellings” of this piece (designed by Erwin Redl) are represented simply by hanging strings of light, a bit like the neon-lit streets of our city, wherein dancers Davis, Leibert, Liu, and White dive, rise, twist, and turn and even writhe between the gradually lowering ribbons of light which by work’s end, like the individuals to whom this piece is dedicated, are finally “bedded,” draped across the stage floor, the dancers almost hedged in by the metal bar that has held the lit-up strips.
But if there was any doubt of the vibrancy of this young company, their much-admired Ode to Joy, “O2Joy” followed. This popular work, performed across the country, is a testimony to the American Song Book, with jazz music by Oscar Peterson, Count Basie, and great numbers by Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields and numerous others. The ecstatic dancers Berkett, Davis, Leibert, Rosando, and White spun and leaped in grand jetes exuberantly, Davis lip-synching a totally camp yet charming rendition of Gerald Mark’s and Seymour Simon’s “All of Me.” It’s this sense of total joy, sexuality, and outright silliness that separates this company from so many others.