Saturday, April 7, 2018

Dance 'Til You Drop - History Theatre

Created in collaboration with Collide Theatrical Dance Company, Dance 'Til You Drop at History Theatre tells the true story of Callum deVillier, world record holder for marathon dancing. 

Playwright Carson Kreitzer explains where the idea for the show started in her program note:
"When [Collide choreographer] Regina Peluso first showed me the image that launched this whole piece ... a gravestone in Minneapolis' Lakewood Cemetery, two elegant ballroom dancers etched in marble and the words
I was instantly hooked, plunged into a world far beyond what I had ever imagined. 3,780 continuous hours? How is this possible?"
An excellent question. Dance 'Til You Drop starts with an older Cal (Pearce Bunting) reminiscing, then dissolving into the past of the dance marathons of the 1930s with young Cal (Patrick Jeffrey) and his partner Vonny (Andrea Mislan). Kreitzer's book elegantly tells not only Cal and Vonny's story, but provides intriguing snippets into the stories of the other five dancing couples in the contest as well as a few of the marathon observers and judges.

The dancing is utterly gorgeous, of course, and includes tap and even one dance en pointe. It's astonishing how athletic and energetic these dancers are, but even more amazing is their ability to dance like they are exhausted but dancing through it.

The music, provided by a small band and led by music director Doug Rohde, is a collection of classic songs of the 1920s and 1930s ("Stardust" "What'll I Do" "St. James Infirmary") sung by Emcee (also Pearce Bunting) and the lovely Katie Gearty, who seems as though she was born to sing these songs.

Such a fantastic play, and a fascinating story. As usual, the lobby display has a ton of great information about Cal's real life that made me want to learn more about this moment in time.