Scorpius Dance Theatre’s season closer, “Catwalk… I love Duran Duran” at Phoenix Theatre provided an entertaining experience for the audience-goers who clearly enjoyed the loud 80’s British-pop music, scantily-clad women, and incredible aerial stunts. The entire evening, based around the popular 80’s band, Duran Duran and their music, was at its best, jaw dropping in its aerial stunts, and at its worst, superficial and simplistic. The company stuck to their Duran Duran theme so intensely that their dances even mirrored the band’s lack of emotional depth. The entire evening was reminiscent of a Vegas style show where the performers are talented, and the audience is engaged, but the dances themselves are hollow.
The strongest pieces of the show had simple, clear messages and featured the most committed performers. “Electric Barbarella” featured a female dancer who seemed to be a cross between Barbie and a sexy robot. While you would think that being a sexy robot Barbie would give a girl pretty obvious physical disadvantages due to her lack of mobility, Electric Barbarella was able to use her wit and sexuality to physically defeat the four male dancers vying for her attention. The dance was funny and charming and the message was clear, this woman doesn’t need any man. The first aerial-based performance of the evening, “Night Boat,” was a solo by a man who entranced the audience with his stage presence. By staring deeply into our eyes and physically flying over the first 5 rows. A connection was created between audience and performer that made the audience sit up and take notice of his talents. We were treated to an incredible spectacle of human strength and discipline as the dancer spun, twisted, and flew through the air. While there was no storyline in this dance, the audience did not care as we were there for the pure spectacle of the aerial arts.
All of the pieces were well rehearsed and Scorpius could never be accused of hiring dancers who do not have talent and technique. The only negative to be said about the evening is that none of dances delved any deeper into the themes of their pieces than the words of the songs on which they were based. The emotions that the dancers showed seemed empty and lifeless as if they had been told to act sad or happy or in love without being given any context for these feelings. The dances were not thought provoking and I was never left with questions because everything was laid out very clearly before me on the stage and in the music. Since all of the dancers are strong and talented, the show was still enjoyable and entertaining, but I was left with frustration at how much more interesting each piece could have been if only the choreographer had dug a little deeper.
While I was initially shocked by the $30 ticket price, I found that the evening was well worth the cost. The first half of the show, while not particularly thought-provoking, was entertaining. The aerial pieces were clearly the highlight of the show and brought out the most enthusiasm from an already engaged audience. The second half of the show consisted of a live performance by Duran Duran cover band, “Rio,” who kept up the excited energy of the audience. The technical aspects of the show were spot on. The beautiful venue, interesting lighting and Duran Duran inspired costumes gave the evening a pol
ished feel. I do wish that the programs, which were pretty basic, had been heftier as I would like to have known the names of all the dancers performing in each piece. As long as Scorpius continues to make work that engages and excites the audience, they’ll continue to grow in the Valley dance scene for a long time to come.
Review by Hannah Cooper
Photography by Michael Simon