a giant game of pinball Feb 2, 2010
by Jeanmarie Higgins
From their polo shirts in coral pink and turquoise, to their squeaky Puma sneakers, to their early hip-hop moves, the nine male dancers of Grupo de Rua’s H3 are steeped in the 1980’s. They pop & lock, windmill, run backwards, confront the audience, bump chests. We glimpse a move – was that a moonwalk? The Robot? But H3’s vocabulary is richer than retro, more than mere quotation. Some movement points to hip-hop history: was that a James Brown shimmy? Or, yes, as a reviewer below wonders, are these guys going to break into a Jerome Robbins dance fight? Athletic frenzies are punctuated by lyrical stillnesses; the dancers’ percussive group energy is balanced by relationships built through quiet, almost shy duets. The relationship between dancers and audience shifts and builds. At first we are on the ground, watching a dance battle. Later, as the company catapults one another into the center of the space from its margins, it feels like we’re getting an aerial view of a giant game of pinball. When the first neon-colored polo shirt comes off, H3 threatens to culminate in the near-obligatory On the Boards naked dance finale a la Constanza Macras or Jan Fabre, but stops short. And that’s a good thing – H3’s expression of sexuality is not easy; it’s masculine, aggressive, a little dangerous. The ending they do choose is slower, and far, far sexier. Walking backward toward the audience—their eyes trained on us from bent necks—the dancers almost threaten to battle it out again. Except maybe this time they’ll dance it upside-down, backwards, and right in our faces. Because they’re just that bad-ass.