A Downtown, Latter-Day Firebird, With a Female Hero in Sneakers


With her all-grrrl troupe, Decadancetheatre, Jennifer Weber aims to take hip-hop from street to stage. Her latest manifesto, Decadance vs. The Firebird, invades ballet territory but throws out half of the celebrated Stravinsky-Fokine concept of the old Russian legend.

Weber uses the seeker-warrior who, abetted by a magic bird with whom he’s made a deal, successfully defies a monster holding the innocent captive. She chooses to omit the love interest—the released princesses and the ultimate wedding—but, within her resolution-rejecting framework, she conjures up telling images of flamboyant magic, unadulterated evil, and abiding courage. Her leading dancers bring—dare I say?—the feminine mystique to hip-hop. They suspend the expected fierce staccato moves in a matrix of lush fluency and add a dimension of alluring mystery to the form’s conventional tough, streetwise attitude. Gentry Farley has given them the beautiful, imaginative wardrobe they deserve.