Getting Their Ukes


Choreographer Sarah East Johnson has what you might call a tectonic preoccupation. After Girls and Volcanoes and Volcano Love, she’s back with her troupe of lithe and limber dancers to present Lava Love, an evening of cabaret routines and daredevil circus stunts that further extend the metaphor that bodies in motion are like the earth’s plates pushing together, the friction releasing creative energy like lava erupting from a volcano.

Stripped of any dialogue, set, or plot per se, Lava Love rambles along in a string of metaphors like nuggets unearthed and cracked open. One scene evokes a shipwreck, with three performers perched on swaying high bars, and develops into a beautifully abstract mermaid dreamscape. Another is pure fun, casting two dancers in a camped-up, kitsched-out
hula-hoop act, replete with ukulele music and grass skirts. There are a few quick zingers: a frustrated lover tossing flowers high over her shoulder for another to catch in desperation, a girl on a pogo stick kerplunking across the stage for no more than a chuckle and a cheer. Along the way, the Lava ladies twist and tumble, contort themselves into a human kaleidoscope, show affection then beat the crap out of one another.

At its best, the movements in Lava Love are breathtaking in their grace, strength, and fearlessness. At its worst— and there are only a few such patches— it’s like sitting in on a bad yoga class. Over all, the seven women onstage generate a heat that’s less violent explosion than good slow vibe, warming the room and all who happen into it.


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