Bruno Beltrao blog Jan 28, 2010
by Danny Herter
With Bruno Beltrao's H3 you don't get the large group unisons choreographed to rhythm-heavy rap as you would with a traditional hip hop dance piece, or a plethora of head spins, windmills, and air flares you may see in a breakdance exhibition. Instead what you get is sketches of the street and a taste of the jungle. Seven dancers clad in comfortable attire of jeans and polo or T-shirts enter a dim arena, the borders of which begin as clearly defined and eventually are thrown into disarray. There seems to be a hesitancy, a survey of the environment before the small groups of dancers start moving arms and feet through gently flowing or sharply angular, sinuous pathways. Those not dancing sit randomly around the sides as if watching a street demonstration or waiting their turn. We hear the sounds of cars in the street, the squeak of basketball shoes and chatter of Portugese echoing in a large hall. Dancers explode into aggressive torrents and return to a compacted personal space of highly stylized gesture and shuffle. They create a gritty galaxy of reckless revolutions, colliding asteroids, and micro nebulas. No one is in charge, yet alliances form and clusters multiply. They prepare like they're about to perform a spinning breakdance move, then run in tight circles around each other at high speeds. Contact and partnering between dancers is used create clever anatomical illusions and break the laws of human physics. This includes two dancers appearing to be one person walking in profile, and dancers running at each other full force, jumping, and grabbing the other to change direction mid-air. We are given brief tableaus of postures and positions reminiscent of street culture or breakdance moves cut off before execution. The dancers accumulate together in washes across the stage either running/jumping backwards or doing a spinning crawl on hands feet. Although there are some breakdance stunts (including one head spin and one air flare during the entire evening), they are used sparingly and only to accentuate a quick paced duet or in the middle of one of the many segments of chaos. H3 is a very clever, artistic piece of detailed choreography showing enormous attention and restraint in what could have easily become just another talent showcase with a group of incredibly physical and daring dancers. Get your tickets quick if it's not sold out already. Thanks for the opportunity. Congrats on a killer show OtB!