Crushed With Joy
To the sounds of a beat-box, locusts emerge and dance around on the ground before being crushed by a man’s unseeing boot. And then the dancers emerge, rising from the floor, hips swaying, shoulders and arms moving in rhythm, fast, strong, pulsating. So begins Crushed, by the Seattle modern dance group Locust.
With movements that seemed to blend break-dancing, hip-hop dance and Capoeira with modern dance, five dancers took turns fighting for the spotlight, pushing, pulling and shoving each other out of the way as if in some sort of stylized street fight. Behind the dancers, a film screen showed shadowy images of the same movements, being performed by the same dancers, but a step behind the live action on the stage, providing a weirdly enthralling visual echo.
Meanwhile, the beat box continued to provide a pulsing, swampy rhythm overlaid with melodic, atmospheric sounds that blended so smoothly with the dancers tight, muscular movements that at times it was hard to tell which was driving which.
Crushed was the epitome of everything I love about TBA: it was high energy, original, fast-paced, hip, and sexy, without ever being boring, repetitive or excessively literal.
The only moment when the show momentarily lost its footing was when it briefly tried to be theatrical, the dancers wearing high heels and dresses and the two leaders singing a pop song duet while holding balloons at the front of the stage. It was a relief when the dancers and beat box returned to form, and ended with a tightly choreographed ensemble, while their images moved in and out of focus on the screen behind them.
Crushed was so good I almost wished I could see it again tomorrow night.
- Seth Needler