Gonna be a hot time in D-town tonight: The Bipeds and Curtis Eller’s American Circus

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The Bipeds in rehearsal for Stacy Wolfson’s Never, Enough, Better, Nothing, with the high-kicking Curtis Eller on banjo. Performances will be June 2-4, 2016 at The Shed, Golden Belt.  Photo: Alex Maness.

Durham’s DIY dance scene continues to move expansively into the nooks and small venues of the city. Do yourself a favor, local dance fans, and get over to Golden Belt tonight or tomorrow for a performance by the Bipeds Dance Company in collaboration with Curtis Eller’s American Circus. I attended their final rehearsal last night–the final, and first with the full band–and enjoyed myself thoroughly.

Bipeds artistic director and choreographer Stacy Wolfson had been talking on and off with Curtis Eller–their daughters are in school together–about collaborating. They started in earnest last September, and Wolfson began creating movement sequences to particular songs, sometimes incorporating some of Eller’s trademark stage moves. Wolfson’s dynamic, elastic style melds well with Eller’s jumps and high kicks, but where he climbs on the furniture, the dancers get down on the floor.

Most of the dancing is performed by the quartet of Renay Aumiller, Amanda Floyd Beaty, William Commander and Alyssa Noble, and on the small stage in the small space, even without a crowd, they neared the combustion point, with Amanda Beaty doing some particularly nice work.  The choreography is vivid, muscular and emotively clear as it quickly runs through a range of efforts and feelings in the pauseless, nonstop song and dance act. Sometimes the relation of the dance to the song is direct; at others, the song and dance are emotionally or tonally congruent, but not connected in any illustrative way. Eller is also very active on stage, and to some extent the singers Shea Broussard and Dana Marks join in, but the stand-up bass man (Hugh Crumley) and the drummer (Jack Fleishman) had of necessity to remain upstage.

The set-up in The Shed is charmingly down home. Wolfson is using part of the sprung floor constructed last summer by Renay Aumiller, Leah Wilks and friends, for RAD’s aerial performance. The floor was designed to be storable and portable and available for the dance community, and it makes all the difference in what the dancers can safely do. This work would fail on a concrete floor–the attack is too fierce, the dancers would hurt themselves. The availability of this floor is going to change local dance much for the better. But other than having a professional surface to move on, the room looks more like a living room, and the stage is lined with mismatched lamps that the performers turn on and off during the action. The big windows are haphazardly covered with swathes of cloth. There are about 50 chairs and a couch or two. And a great sound system.

Performances tonight, June 3 and Sat. June 4 at 8 p.m. in The Shed at Golden Belt, 807 E. Main St., Durham. Tickets in advance at brownpapertickets.com or at the door. The band will play on afterward on Sat. Dress to wiggle.

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Never a still moment in Never, Enough, Better, Nothing. The Bipeds and Curtis Eller’s American Circus will perform their collaborative song-and-dance work June 3-4 at The Shed at Goldenbelt.  Rehearsal photo: Alex Maness.

 

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