It’s HAPPY HOUR: ADF 2017 is Open

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Anna Bass, left, and Monica Bill Barnes in HAPPY HOUR. Photo: Grant Halverson.

 

I don’t know much about office parties or happy hours, and what I have known is pretty dreary. Not so with the crazy happy hour party thrown by Monica Bill Barnes & Company at the Durham Arts Council’s PSI Theater as the first Durham performances of the American Dance Festival 2017 season. Go on, have a good time!

Join the throng, join the confusion, buy a raffle ticket, have a beer, have wine, have pretzels, popcorn and vitamin C gummies! And watch these clever gals portray a couple young guys in suits, perfect right down to the beery bro reconciliation after one cuts out the other from a hook-up opportunity. If you choose, you can work up some kind of gender politics statement and lay it over this prolonged vaudevillian skit, buy why bother?  But if nothing else, you’ll wish that every man wore his trousers as well as these women wear theirs.

Barnes and Co. are serious, but never heavy. They may portray sadness, but angst really is not their thing. So refreshing! Both Bass and Barnes are almost uncanny in their abilities with subtle gesture and expression: their faces dance almost as much as the rest of their bodies. They are funny in their impersonations–but not mocking. Their humor does not have a cruel edge. Their movement draws on any and all styles–it feels familiar, but not derivative, and it is very finely tuned and precise. If you are having doubts about this life being worthwhile, watching them frolic will almost certainly restore your own joie de vivre.

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Monica Bill Barnes, standing, with Anna Bass in HAPPY HOUR. Photo: Grant Halverson.

 

The company’s tagline is “bringing dance where is doesn’t belong.” ADF actually started this season with the company leading choreographed dance work-outs at the NC Museum of Art. At Happy Hour, however, its your laugh muscles that get the work-out.

There were supposed to be brews after-show with the dancers, but on Tuesday night, they did not appear at Bull McCabe’s for such a long time that the moment for that fun had really passed, so I don’t know that you can count on that aspect of the advertised events. But you can still enjoy the $3 beer special as you mentally re-play the cascade of delights, and come to realize just how much on-stage work goes into giving an audience a care-free hour.

Repeats June 7, 8 and 9 at 6:30 pm.

 

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