By Sameena Darr
Say goodbye to the calculated moves of lithe dancers that make pieces of beef jerky feel self conscious about their weight, and say hello to the freaky funk of Calgary! The Dancer’s Studio West stage was graced with dancers of all body types and abilities in the new show Fairy Tales of Funk…and Some Other Mad Shit on October 7, 2004. The cast of classically trained dancers and their edgy street abilities wowed audiences with a fusion of eclectic choreography by first time director Roxana Menzies.
An urban vibe was apparent throughout the performance with music from Calgary based Internal Affairs and Missy Elliot pumped into the theatre and the productions of Matt Reid. A particularly impressive solo, entitled “Tabanka”, featured the work of Toronto Spoken Word artist Jemeni and choreographer/director Menzies in their element.
Menzies possesses a remarkable talent for infusing depth and emotion in her choreography with a definite sense of humour especially in such pieces as “He’s like… a Dancing Jackie Chan”. In that piece, a male dancer toys between Gene Kelly and Kung Fu and had audiences cheering at the end. The varied music directly complemented the styles of dance and allowed Menzies to express her diversity as a choreographer. With hip-hop, funk, contemporary, and Jamaican influences, Fairy Tales of Funk was riddled with crisscrossing styles and an impressive amalgam of dance forms.
The dancing was certainly not a weakness in this show, but the acting was. Perhaps a demonstration of why some dancers should invest in acting classes, the show opened with a girl in an elevated window who seemed to hyperventilate for what seemed like the first 5 minutes of the show. The storybook format of Fairy Tales of Funk meant painful monologues and weak dramatic links between dance numbers. While the individual pieces were strong, the transitions between each piece were ill defined and made the performance seem like a work in progress.
Despite its weaknesses, Fairy Tales of Funk was a mesmerizing show. It’s rare to see performers actually having fun on stage, which the Fairy Tales of Funk was from beginning to end. Menzies is an artist to pay attention to, her anomalous style and whimsical choreography demands recognition. Hopefully, we can brace ourself for some more mad shit in the future.