Scorpius Dance Theatre presented Intimate at the Actors Theatre in downtown Phoenix. The evening presented intricate, emotional, and athletic choreography. The talent of these dancers is always impressive, but I am especially impressed by their ability to produce a show just one week after “Catwalk…I Love Duran Duran.” The works presented were mostly a collection of duets and solos choreographed by artistic director Lisa Starry and Scorpius dancers.
The company’s conceptual preferences were visible in this show through the reoccurring theme of guitar music, emotional lyrics, and relationship struggles between a male and female partnership. One trio, Unrequited Inamorata, found a new approach to the theme of relationship struggles. The piece began with a male and female partnership and a solo male out-casted in the background. In traditional dance themes, this set-up would evolve into a ménage trois where the male characters fought over the female character. Instead, the male left the hetero partnership for the other man. The performers did a great job of presenting an authentic struggle between internal conflict and external pressures.
Another stand-out duet of the evening was Nirvana by Alexis Stephens and Jose Soto. Both dancers had the ability to fulfill technical movements while remaining connected with one another and their kinesthetic expression of the works concept. Alexis Stephens is one of my favorite female dancers to watch perform. Just when you think her joints could not have another millimeter to reach, she surpasses your expectations and pushes the limits of her body even further. When watching her dance, my breath cycle actually begins to connect to her extensions with inhales and her contractions with exhales. Somehow, without ice skates or ice, Stephens and Soto executed a couples ice skating move. Stephens held her foot over head in a heel stretch while Soto took hold of her other foot and furiously spun her body around in a circle.
All though their extensions and level fearlessness were exhilarating in this move, the best part was their transition out of this move where they both re-stabilized into one another’s bodies, and morphed like an amoeba into the next move. All of the partnering in this show required attention to their exits and entrances of challenging partner-work. This level of consideration was especially required in some of the more predictable lifts that occurred when the challenge of the execution broke the partnership, and the genuine characterization.
The idea that strong technique can be pleasurable resonated during At First Sight, choreographed by Jay Bouey. The dancers had exemplary extensions that seemed to go beyond 180 degrees. They also had the most clearly articulated feet and stable grounded connections through the floor that I had seen all night. Most importantly, this was an indulgent and feel-good piece, where the expressions on the dancer’s face said, “It feels damn good to do this…mmm.”
One piece that really broke away from the themes of relationships and jaw-dropping feats of athleticism was Trapped, by Martha Hernandez. She found new ways to utilize her limbs and made choreographic choices with the music that enhanced her sense of play. She helped the audience find the humor that existed in the development of the movement, not in an emotional concept. Quirky, intricate, and original are things that Hernandez always brings into her work.
The closing number of the evening was Girls Night Out… AKA Butt Dance choreographed by Lisa Starry. This piece had a Pina-esque appeal to it. The girls were in dresses and did “butt-ography.” The piece was humorous, tasteful, and the girls were still sexy. Scorpius has the opportunity to make some excellent commentary on the perception of the moving body due to their physically attractive cast. It would be great to see more of the strength and beauty of their bodies used to accentuate movement as it did during some of the works showcased at Intimiate.
If you didn’t get to see Intimate last week, there will be another show Friday, August 1 @ 10pm! This show will have different works in it, and will involve more the for core Scorpius cast. I would highly recommend seeing this show! It is only an hour long and worth the $20 tickets.
Tickets can be purchased at this link (https://actorstheatrephx.simpletix.com/EventDetails/12/Time/81/)
Photography by Michael Simon
Review by Julie Akerly
Saturday July 19 @ 10pm