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.

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 7, 2004

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