While similarly devoted to circus skills and thrills, LAVA isn’t deliciously frightening like STREB, just delicious. The new High Tide (at DTW through May 18), directed by Sarah East Johnson, pokes fun at clichéd get-to-know-each-dancer devices—think A Chorus Line—while genuinely drawing us close to the hearts of eight smart, intrepid performers, including the 11-year-old Sgroi twins. Amid LAVA’s signature hoop-diving shenanigans, trapeze exploits, and pyramids of interlocked bodies, there’s feeling, gentle humor, and mystery. Movement, lighting, visual design, and music—from the Beatles to the Butchies—create a kaleidoscopic epic of love’s ups and downs. Everyone’s welcome to the feast—open-minded dance fans; acrobatics aficionados; dykes smitten by sleek, strong champions warbling pop love songs or dancing rumbas. Not to be missed: Natalie Agee’s supple, darkly erotic trapeze solo. It’s perfection.
Miguel Gutierrez and the Powerful People are presenting a roughly half-hour excerpt from their upcoming premiere, I Succumb, as part of DTW’s SplitStream program (through May 20). So what is this thing called love? A grim rectangle of light where denim-clad dancers collapse and creep around, becoming violently entangled with one another’s bodies as Jaime Fennelly’s music snaps, crackles, and pops. Pelvises pump frenetically, limbs gyrate helplessly, and dancers split apart like cells in mitosis. Later, members of a tidy lineup gently maneuver any strays back into order, and partners move in a brisk, expressionless duets. The company certainly earns its unusual name through these forceful performances. Other interesting ensemble works share the bill: Worthless Limbs, by Luciana Achugar and Levi Gonzalez; and Paul Matteson’s Failing Me Now, with its standout solo, sort of an anthropomorphized heart arrhythmia, for dancer Lisa Gonzales.