reviewed by Ken Klingenmeier

Happy New Year, everyone! We do not have to wait long to get started on a new ASOTA season – with Dance Kaleidoscope’s La Vie on Broadway opening on this second day of 2020.

Aleksa Lukasiewicz (right) and Dance Kaleidoscope company members perform “The Room Where It Happens” from the musical “Hamilton”.

As always, there is a lot to admire about David Hochoy’s troupe of accomplished dancers. La Vie on Broadway has two varied acts. The first, a world premiere, co-choreographed by Hochoy and company member Stuart Coleman, entitled Give My Regards To… is a compilation of selections from Broadway musicals spanning the Great White Way’s history from “O What a Beautiful Morning” (Oklahoma – 1943) – a country-smacked hoedown-inspired opening number, through “The Flesh Failures/Eyes Look Your Last/Let The Sunshine In” (Hair – 1967) – which endeavors to update youths’ struggles from being anti-war to being climate-conscious, to “The Room Where It Happens” – (Hamilton – 2015). The latter is a rollicking, bouncy hip-hop arrangement – very narrative and quite entertaining. Kiernan King shines in his plaintive solo interpretation of “Bring Him Home” (Les Miserables) as does Marie Kuhns with her sorrowfully raging “Burn” (Hamilton). Emily Dyson and Aaron Steinberg are beautifully love-affirming in their duet of “Without You” (Rent). The act ends with Manuel Valdes leading the company in a touching “You Will Be Found” (Dear Evan Hansen). Guy Clark’s costumes are perfect for the array of themes, and Laura E. Glover provides effective lighting designs.

Emily Dyson and Aaron Steinberg in “Without You”

Act two brings the return of David Hochoy’s 2011 effort – PIAF: A Celebration. Beautifully costumed by Cheryl Sparks, the piece is comprised of songs by famous French chanteuse, Edith Piaf, who performed mostly in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. The Gallic flavor of these pieces is brought out by Hochoy’s savvy choices – the females are sometimes sassy, sometimes wanton; the males might strut, seduce, or remain cold to their girls’ advances – depending on the story Piaf is telling in her songs – although I have little understanding of the French lyrics. The net result of the combination of Piaf’s songs and Hochoy’s imagination is a varietal collection of whimsy and passion, from the opening La Goualante Du Pauvre Jean (The Tale of Poor Jean) by the company, with its comical flair – to the heart-breaking Mon Dieu (My God), performed with tortured desire by Jillian Godwin and Cody Miley. In the finale pieces, the dancers swirl in formal white tie tuxes and gowns (albeit with bare feet) – a lovely final picture for the audience.

Paige Robinson and Kieran King perform in “PIAF: A Celebration”

Bottomline – DK has once again upheld their reputation for boundless dance talents formed into entertaining and meaningful presentations. I could not help noticing the absence of Brandon Comer, Mariel Greenlee and Timothy June. However, the four newest company members more than fill any gaps.

Tuxed and gowned, the DK corps performs “PIAF: A Celebration”.

La Vie on Broadway continues at IRT’s UpperStage venue through January 12th. Go to https://dancekal.org to find performance schedules and to reserve tickets or call 317.843.3800.

  • – photos by Crowe’s Eye Photography