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Dance Place: Cafritz Foundation Theater
Remaining Performances (tickets available here):
Saturday, July 18 at 12:00 p.m. Wednesday, July 22 at 9:05 p.m. Saturday, July 25 at 6:50 p.m. Sunday, July 26 at 3:15 p.m.
They Say: Niche follows an unremarkable couple with a new house, big careers and odd neighbors. 2-D cut-outs (via an ‘old school’ projector) supply larger than life visuals along the way. Movement and dialogue merge while live music for guitar circulates.
Devon’s Take: In Niche, Jane Franklin choreographs members of her eponymous dance company to Cristian Perez‘ beautiful, live Argentine guitar playing. This contemporary dance piece utilizes not only the dancers’ bodies but their voices, plus a few nice touches like a projector and shadow puppets.
As a man and a woman (Sean Miller and Leslie Noble) move into a new home, they begin to adjust to their new lives; Meanwhile, three quirky neighbors (Emily Crews, Carrie Monger and Amy Scaringe) observe the goings-on.
The choreography is at its best when it works in conjunction with the neighbors’ narration—the three add energy and some humor to the show. Additionally, the narration helps push forward a plotline fairly complicated for a one-hour contemporary piece, though the pace of the story flows well and keeps the audience interested throughout.
And the story takes a turn: the man suddenly transforms from and alright kind of guy (though overly focused on work) to a bit of a sleaze when he has an affair with one of the neighbors after a night out in the city. The woman—whom I conclude has to be either a schoolteacher or a sex therapist, though I wasn’t sure based on the explanation—is equally as ambitious as her partner, though work and their rocky relationship takes its toll on her.
Ultimately, the couple find new, less stressful jobs, retreat into their home and find happiness again, even if it isn’t quite the same as it was before.
Though there were some moments when there seemed to be a lag in the energy behind the choreography, creative set changes choreography again and again breathed life back into the performance.
The greatest performance of all came from Perez, who left me feeling like I have been seriously missing out on listening to Argentine guitar music my entire life. It was lively, emotional, and helped to both steer and assist the story and dance throughout the show.
See it if: You too want to fall in love with Argentine guitar music.
Skip it if: Seeing PowerPoint slides in a contemporary dance piece will give you work flashbacks.