Moving Poets Theater of Dance
Theater 36 at Hart-Wizen, Charlotte, NC
November 4, 2005
Reviewed by Lea Marshall
In 7 Deadly Sins, the Charlotte, North Carolina-based Moving Poets Theater of Dance uses theater, dance, visual art, and music to tell the story of Max, a frustrated sculptor. Max’s dream of success comes true when he is offered a design job with a large opera company. The sins of the title describe the temptations Max succumbs to as he abandons his devoted wife (who has sacrificed her own art—dance—to his) for the opera’s heartless soprano diva, then compromises his own artistic vision.
Within the confines of this not-unfamiliar story the term “deadly sins” felt hyperbolic. Rather than seeming anguished by his decisions, Max appeared to be the victim of circumstance, led astray by his vague wish to be “great.” The character of Max was dual-cast, played by actor Mike Harris with artistic director/dancer Till Schmidt-Rimpler performing two duets with Janelle Tatum-Eggleston, who played Max’s wife. The double-casting could have played up the duality in Max’s personality as he strayed from his path. As presented here, however, it merely illustrated his declining relationship with his wife.
Schmidt-Rimpler and Karola Luttringhaus’s cleanly danced, balletic choreography often provided relief from the ponderous dialogue. Still, choreographic explorations of the sins—although well costumed by MyLoan Dinh (Greed wore a miniskirt made of money and Sloth appeared in pajama-like layers)—rarely evoked dread, horror, or moral outrage. One exception was the Wrath section, choreographed and performed by the tall, striking Luttringhaus, who clutched at her throat, plucked at her skin, and made chopping motions down her body with a fierceness that seemed difficult for her to contain. With her heavy boots, intense gaze, and wildly tossing hair, Luttringhaus, footlit and ghastly against a white wall, brought a moment of raw truth into this otherwise overly glossy tale.
Combining several disciplines to tell a story demands a level of intellectual and emotional depth that Max’s story, peopled with stock characters, did not possess despite its sexy gilding. 7 Deadly Sins reveals both the difficulties Moving Poets must encounter while committed to such a laudable goal and the rewards it must gain from working with a diverse and dedicated group of artists. See www.movingpoets.com.