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Dance Place: Cafritz Foundation Theater

Remaining performances (tickets available here):

Sunday, July 19 at 3:30pm
Saturday, July 25 at 10:20pm

They say: SHARP Dance Company invites you to take a sexy and thought-provoking step back in time to 1900s France with a exciting, fun-filled night of original choreography. Performed by six talented dancers and live vocalist, including aerial performances.

Emily’s take: Une Soirée au Cabaret makes great use of the performing space at Dance Place. As the show begins, lush red curtains open, and a single dancer is illuminated by dramatic spotlight. Francophiles might feel that the fringed flapper dresses and black lace are more a product of the American imagination than of historic Paris, but even if the conceit isn’t perfect, it’s cute.

It begins, of course, with Édith Piaf’s “La Vie en Rose.” The pieces move along at a steady clip from there, with fourteen filling the show’s 55-minute run. The second act features vocalist Jenn Hallman solo downstage at a microphone, the rest of the stage black as she belts “Cry Me a River” in a strong voice. She returns to the stage at regular intervals between dance numbers. By her third appearance, to sing “Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall in Love),” she’s become fully immersed in the lounge singer’s persona, cracking jokes to the audience and tossing off-the-cuff comments in-between song lyrics. But it’s not until “I’m Feelin’ Like a Million” near the end of the show that Hallman sings in combination with the dancers, a combination the company might have explored further.

Several pieces on the program lean acrobatic, beginning with “Cape Dance,” in which dancer Sandra Davis wears an unusual cape with rod inserts to extend the arms almost into wings. Davis stretches her arms, making the cape into nearly a full circle of cloth that sweeps outward and then back around her. It’s a unique idea, but constricts her range of movement somewhat. As with the other acrobatic pieces (one on an aerial hoop and another using a suspended net), the novelty captured attention, but limited the range of possibility for a soloist.

The mid-show duet between Sophie Malin and Kate Rast to Jean Sablon’s “Two Sleepy People” is a standout. Malin and Rast play two women tipsy from trading wine bottle pulls, giggling while nearly falling into each other. It morphs into a pas de deux with the two catching and spinning and dragging each other with ease. Davis and Miguel Quinones also pair well in a duet to Piaf’s “Hymne a L’amour.”

“Ne Me Quitte Pas,” as the last piece on the program before the curtain call, embodies the best of the group pieces. Smiling and light more than sultry, the dancers have still committed to their cabaret-dancer characters, down the same flicks of wrist and tiny gestures.

See it if: You wish more entertainment drew inspiration from the last days of the French Belle Époque.

Skip it if: You’re hoping for the flouncy skirts and high-kicking can-can or a risqué striptease – the show is safe for all ages.

Photo courtesy of SHARP Dance Company