Theater archives

Mixed Media, Nostalgia, and Gentle Humor Inform a French Extravaganza


Philippe Decouflé reports that his multimedia carnival Tricodex, created for the Lyon Opera Ballet, takes its inspiration from a phantasmagoric pictorial “encyclopedia” by Luigi Sarafini, published in 1981. It harks back further as well—to the magically dehumanized bodies of Alwin Nikolais, to Oskar Schlemmer’s beautiful, absurd designs for Bauhaus dancers, and to old circuses, which had a more enchanting theatricality than today’s souped-up three-ringers. A clan of zebra-striped bodies acquires suggestive serpentine extensions ending in vermilion feathers, while other transformations range from rings-of-Saturn to mermaid to tropical flora and primeval fauna. A wheeled wooden frame creates a proscenium evoking stages of yore; in and around it old-fashioned feats of balance and flying seem to be caught in gaslight illuminating the dark. Though it suffers from a lack of meaningful structure and depth, this is a pretty, playful show. Too bad there were no matinees; children would have loved it.

Gaines’s African American Ensemble Brings the House Down at the Harvey

Dramatic, bodacious, and Broadway-bound is Brooklyn’s Creative Outlet Dance Theatre, belting out an eclectic mix of West African, jazz, and hip-hop styles combined with contemporary technique. A highlight was Kwatakyé, in which 14 bare-chested young men took the stage like a tribe of African princes, aligned in perfect rows, executing their movements crisply with conviction and strength while shouting out short phrases in a Ghanaian tongue. For two and a half hours I was on the edge of my seat, hooting and hollering for performers who ranged in age from about seven to 30. Under the artistic direction of Jamel Gaines, Creative Outlet—which includes many little black boys and girls—held its own in its ability to entertain and uplift. MONICA LEVETTE CLARK