Joseph Allen Decker Dance Company

March 11, 2005

Danny Davalos and Tina Tsunoda in
Storm. Photo: Michael Higgins.


Joseph Allen Decker Dance Company
Ivar Theatre, Hollywood, CA

March 11–13, 2005

Reviewed by Victoria Looseleaf


It’s no secret that Hollywood worships at the altar of youth, beauty, and box-office clout. Clearly, the adoring audience was digging the major heat generated by Joseph Allen Decker Dance Company and guests in an 11-part program, “Storm.”

And a perfect storm it was, for those into high-octane, MTV-like commercial dance. But to cross over and transcend this flash-filled terrain, where each number unspools to the throbbings of a three-minute rock song—and move into the more expressive waters of concert dance and an innovative movement vocabulary—is another matter altogether.

Guest artist Trey Knight did precisely that with Elation, an astonishing act of derring-do performed on stilts. No Ringling Brothers act, but a thrilling new way of moving through space, Nina McNeely, Michael Munez, and Knight high-kicked, pirouetted, and boogied in ways that boggled the mind. It may not be Swan Lake, but adorned in feathers and finery, these were exotic birds of another stripe that totally transported.

One applauds Decker, a former member of Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Company, for putting Knight on the bill, since his own works, Taboo: A Suite in Three Sections and Storm, proved less engaging. The former, set to Nine Inch Nails, featured eight women who could be the Rockettes of raunch, their unison bump-and-grinding a prelude to quasi-floor humping, while the men were of the young, tortured, and hot school, executing full-throttle leaps that were a feast for the eyes but short on soul. Storm, a frenzied take on nature, had a Whirling Dervish quality that had nowhere to go but down.

Decker’s resident choreographer, Murray Phillips, dug deeper with Repressed, a duet for Danny Davalos and Meredith Kerr that glorified tough love with a series of sensational lifts, showy splits, and fierce stage-stalking. His Bitch, however, had the feel of a Gap commercial, the 10 dancers endlessly strutting and preening with little purpose.

Guest choreographers Adam Parson (Elements and Dolphine) and Terri Best (Shadows) pumped up the musical volume, but needed shots of choreographic variety. In spite of the evening’s dynamite dancing, a more-is-less feeling pervaded.