Review: The Radio Show


By Ellen Dunkel

The media have taken a hit in the past decade or so. Newspapers have closed, partly because so many people generally get their information online. CDs and books have suffered in the face of downloads. And TV and radio are more concerned than ever about ratings, advertisers, and shows that will appeal to the widest audience.

In Kyle Abraham’s dance The Radio Show for his company, Abraham.In.Motion, he addresses the loss of urban radio stations, and how they were an integral part of the African-American community. Friday night’s performance at the Annenberg Center, part of Live Arts/Fringe, was Abraham’s Philadelphia debut.

Abraham drew the audience in before the show even began, with a selection of songs by Al Green, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Dionne Warwick, and many others. Meanwhile, he walked through the audience, finding people to sit with for a brief chat.

The 75-minute dance is a mix of relationships, hair care, and other life scenes, as well as plotless dances. This is all set to the soundtrack of Abraham’s life, from Aretha Franklin to Britney Spears.

Some sections are performed static or the changing of the song or station station. Sometimes they're performed in silence, as the station has gone off the air. The movement is jazzy, sometimes borrowing steps from ballet, and consistently high quality.

In one amusing section, the action is stopped for a call-in radio show featuring a DJ, a caller offstage, and selected audience members.

The only odd bit was what was described as an intermission in the program, but turned out to be a pause. Several people took it as a cue to step out, only to miss part of the second half.

$25-$30. Zellerbach Theater, Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. Tonight 8 p.m.,