DANCE NOW returns to Boston, this time in a cabaret setting


Raider Times photo / Courtesy of DANCE NOW

Kristin Wagner’s The Click, which performed at The Dance Complex in Central Square, Cambridge, in February 2022.

Katherine A. Schick, Raider Times staff

For the eighth time, the New York-based DANCE NOW production company brought DANCE NOW Boston to The Dance Complex in Central Square, Cambridge, for four late-February performances. But this time, the show was brought with a unique twist: an entertaining night of dance, comedic hosts, and even a spirited game show, all in a cabaret setting.

The performance was hosted in a game-show style by the Davis Sisters duo, who offered a mix of comedy, mock awards, and interviews between acts. Dance performers included the New York-based company The Bang Group; Boston’s The Click; Peter DiMuro, the executive artistic director from The Dance Complex; and Aysha Upchurch. 

David Parker, choreographer for The Bang Group, explained how Boston and NYC choreographers were commissioned to create cabaret dance pieces for DANCE NOW Boston to “establish a creative bridge between NYC and Boston.”

The Bang Group, which performed at The Dance Complex in Central Square, Cambridge, in February 2022. (Raider Times photo / Courtesy of DANCE NOW)

Parker described the cabaret setting, with some audience members seated at tables, as not having “the same vibe as you would get in a theater for a dance concert, which is a much more serious, concentrated attitude that the audience has.” By contrast, this setting offered “a celebratory feel.”

The first act was The Bang Group, founded in 1995 by Parker and Jeffrey Kazin, with the goal of using “existing percussive dance forms like tap and Appalachian clogging and body percussion, but also to use the entire body, to use movement, to use the voice,” Parker says. 

Over the years, The Bang Group has experimented with combinations of contemporary, ballet, tap, swing, and other styles. 

At DANCE NOW Boston, The Bang Group performed the piece “ShowDown,” a reimagined version of the musical “Annie Get Your Gun.” Parker choreographed “ShowDown” in 2008, as a cabaret piece that explores the musical’s themes of romantic conflict, gender stereotypes, and the ins and outs of show business. 

“What is show business versus art business, and how do gender roles work their way in and out of these things, and what place is there for romantic entanglement amid all of that?” Parker said.

In the performance, the dancers conveyed the stories of love, struggle, success, and show business through their facial expressions and interactions, all to songs from “Annie Get Your Gun.” The thrilling choreography included partnerwork and a unique take on tap dancing, in which dancers stamped, stomped, and smacked their bare feet.
Next, DiMuro performed a captivating act that resembles a therapy session, where he showcased modern dance, utilizing props and conversing with the audience. He spoke of emotions felt through the COVID-19-19 pandemic, and the confusing equation that led us to where we are today. DiMuro encouraged audiences to exhibit kindness through an interactive activity in which audience members gave one another gifts. 

In an interview with co-host Joy Davis, DiMuro explained how The Dance Complex values the embodiment of inclusivity among dancers: “These hollow holes of dance hold every corner of the world.”

Peter DiMuro, who performed at The Dance Complex in Central Square, Cambridge, in February 2022. (Raider Times photo / Courtesy of DANCE NOW)

Next, dancers from The Click, a new arrival on Boston’s dance scene, performed a piece by Kristin Wagner called “Survival Aesthetics.” Through the company’s contemporary take on classical moves, like floor work and acrobatic skills, they explore the idea of aesthetics and beauty being essential to one’s survival.

DANCE NOW Boston’s celebratory feel added to the way many dance companies are kicking off 2022 after a hiatus through the pandemic.

“It [the pandemic] has made me really treasure live performance in a way I think I was taking for granted,” Parker said.

Parker himself is a Boston-area native and son of famous crime writer Robert B. Parker, creator of the “Spenser” series of detective novels. He sees DANCE NOW Boston as a vehicle to “stimulate the growth of Boston’s dance communities,” and hopes that Bostonians will take interest in dance and support local artists. 

“I want them to realize that there is a lot of exciting work being made in their own city,” Parker said. “I want them to feel like dance isn’t an insider language that has to be decoded.

“I want them to feel that they have agency and the right to perceive it and to engage with it.” 

(For more information about DANCE NOW, go its website HERE.)

–March 24, 2022-–