If you're looking for dance, look no further. Collide Dance Company has created 12 original full -length dance musicals that have engaged subjects as diverse as the Los Angeles race riots of 1940s (Zoot Suit Riots), classic Shakespearean drama (Romeo & Juliet-2014 & 2020), prostitution and sex trafficking (Lot of Living to Do), bullying, coming-of -age journeys (Class of ’85), and female empowerment (Le Petit Moulin). On September 26th, Collide came to Gremlin Theater to perform their show The Café, a story that navigates the pitfalls and pinnacles of modern-day relationships.
I opted to enjoy this story through ZOOM. This was my first virtual show and it was all systems go after I positioned my laptop and inserted the ZOOM link. And boy was the performance grand! This story was told entirely through dance and music, consisting of male dancers: Rush Benson, Patrick Jeffrey, Jarod Boltjes, and female dancers: Renee Guittar, Chelsea Rose, Betsy Nelson, Heather Brockman, Katie Gerty, and the director, Regina Peluso.
Ragtime choreography interspersed with jazz and modern songs made this show unique. All of the songs were renditions and changed in beat to match the 2/4 or 4/4 tempo of Ragtime music. Some of the songs included: Halo by Beyonce, Don’t Let Me Down by the Chainsmokers, and Call me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepson. The 1920s was brought to life with snazzy flapper dresses, decorative head gear and gold sequined tablecloths. The costume design reminded me of the Orpheum's staging of My Fair Lady which I saw last March. Back in March, the cast of My Fair Lady also wore 1920s fashion, the women in elaborate merry window hats and men in Edwardian fashion.
Collide's backdrop changed in color to match the tone. Dancers approached one another in coquettish fashion, nodding their heads, or offering their hand to their partners'; eager to attract one another’s attention.
Members of the audience were so engrossed in the show, I could make out a few getting up to dance. How was that possible? You might ask, since I was watching virtually? Well, the show was performed live with social distancing outdoors near the Gremlin Theater. There were moments where a Go-Pro would have been a good idea in terms of sound and visual effects. I would have enjoyed seeing some close-up shots of break dancers and dance lifts. And there were moments where I felt like I was watching a 1950’s television versus a 2020 Chromebook, but I think it was the earlier jazz music that added to this feeling.
Dance number, Black Coffee by Parov Stelar was my favorite. Eight of the dancers were up and moving with coffee in hand. A combination of step hops, strides, and spins modulated in pace so fast that at one point I thought I was listening to rave. And by the end of the song, everyone had raised their cups in good cheer.
What a fantastic celebration of life through dance. Come and see Collide’s upcoming shows Girls Night Out Tribute to the Superstar Women of Country, October 3rd, as well as Frank Capra's It’s a Wonderful Life, December 3-13 2020.