Friday, July 31, 2015

Review: One City Under a Groove

These girls just want to have fun, says Jim Rutter.

Review: One City Under a Groove


By Jim Rutter

Don’t expect a dance documentary in Pink Hair Affair’s 1970s-styled One City Under a Groove. The decade defined by draft dodgers, disco and drugs saw only the last receive full treatment in the collaborative’s 10 pieces.

None of the Pink Hair girls were even born until the mid-1980s, and drew at least some of their Me Decade knowledge from movies. Christine Steigerwald and Ashley Wood’s playful “Space Magic” depicted two kids in a backyard light-saber battle. Jacklyn Koch donned an afro wig, blue denim jumper, and Pam Grier swagger in “Fluff That Fro,” a piece that crackled with sisterhood sexuality as her legs enveloped the floor in splits and straddles.

The remaining pieces captured the spirit of Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and the Beatles. Dancers drifted through a hallucinogenic haze, pirouetting lazily in long circles with rear legs pointed to the diamonds in the sky. Kaleigh Jones surfed across bodies as the ensemble rolled across the floor. A girl with stereophonic headphones swooned to a live guitarist; she caressed the bulbs covering her ears as he strummed his stick.

Ambience flowed from Gemini silhouettes, hanging beads, madras-cloth tapestries, headbands and bellbottoms. Disco received a nod in the final number, a feverish piece set to the Bee Gees (who else?).

A few narrative segments caught the era’s turbulence. Laura Jenkins’ “Braless, Brainless Broads” turned bra burning into burlesque, and Steigerwald’s “Slipped Away” showed a college freshman seduced by a biker. 

But rather than let these pieces beat the audience with issues, the choreographers cut them short. To borrow a song that Pink Hair Affair did grow up on, in dance, these girls just want to have fun.

 No further performances.

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About this blog

Toby Zinman's night job since 2006 is theater critic for the Inquirer where she reviews New York and London as well as Philadelphia. Her day job: Prize-winning prof at UArts, author of five books about modern and contemporary drama, and doer of scholarly deeds (winner of five NEH grants, Fulbright lecturer at Tel Aviv University, visiting professor in China). She was recently named by American Theatre magazine "one of the twelve most influential critics in America."

Wendy Rosenfield has written freelance features and theater reviews for The Inquirer since 2006. She was theater critic for the Philadelphia Weekly from 1995 to 2001, after which she enjoyed a five-year baby-raising sabbatical. She serves on the board of the American Theatre Critics Association, was a participant in the Bennington Writer's Workshop, a 2008 NEA/USC Fellow in Theater and Musical Theater, and twice was guest critic for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival's Region II National Critics Institute. She received her B.A. from Bennington College and her M.L.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. She also is a fiction writer, was proofreader to a swami, publications editor for the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and spends all her free time working out and driving people places. Follow her on Twitter @WendyRosenfield.

Jim Rutter has reviewed theater for The Inquirer since September, 2011. Since 2006, he covered dance, theater and opera for the Broad Street Review, and has also written for many suburban newspapers, including The Main Line Times. In 2009, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded him a Fellowship in Arts Journalism. Thames & Hudson released his updated and revised version of Ballet and Modern Dance in June, 2012. From 1998 to 2005, he taught philosophy and logic at Drexel, and then Widener University. He also coaches Olympic Weightlifting for Liberty Barbell, and has competed at the national level in that sport since 2001.

Merilyn Jackson regularly writes on dance for The Inquirer and other publications. She specializes in the arts, literature, food, travel, and Eastern European culture and politics. In 2001, she was dance critic in residence at the Festival of Contemporary Dance in Bytom, Poland; in 2005, she received an NEA Critics’ Fellowship to Duke University’s Institute for Dance Criticism. She likes to say that dance was her first love but that when she discovered writing she began to cheat on dance. Now that she writes about dance, she’s made an honest woman of herself, although she also writes poetry.

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