Right from the start, when Elijah Labay walks onto the floor wearing nothing but red velvet dance shorts and socks, you know Northwest Dance Project's In Good Company isn't going to be overly serious. The normally stoic Labay, whose portrayals often tend toward pain or distress, now alternates between deadpan stillness and a goofy, Dick Van Dyke smile. In short bursts, he snaps, twists and rolls to Paul Simon's "Love Me Like A Rock," drawing nervous laughter from the audience and setting a convivial tone for the dance company's annual holiday show.
The pieces here are choreographed by NWDPâs dancers â the opener is by Patrick Kilbane â and if these works are any indication, theyâre a real fun-loving bunch. They had guidelines to use top-40 songs from 40 years agoâthough some Bach and Sneaky Sound System are mixed inâso the pieces are generally lively grooves to hits like âCrocodile Rockâ and âLove Train.â Franco Nieto creates a stylized, Tarantino-esque piece to Federale and Cherâs âHalf Breed.â Andrea Parson choreographs a playful bit of dance-theater featuring a table and a great, acrobatic duet between Labay and Ching Ching Wong.
In all the merrymaking, some of the choreography grows a little too freewheeling, verging on unruly. But a forgiving viewer would chalk that up to the casual nature of the show. Taken for what it is, it satisfies and entertains with a lot of personality.