Hybrid Choreography Full of Poetry and Purpose Oct 28, 2014

by Leah Baltus

Leah Baltus at City Arts on Opposing Forces:

"Most trips to On the Boards begin with a buzzing lobby. But on opening night of choreographer Amy O’Neal’s Opposing Forces last Thursday, the doors to the theatre opened early and the lobby crowd thinned. The action was already inside, where an open B-boy cipher informally welcomed everyone to get down before taking their seats. Pre-shows can have a canned, awkward quality, but this one exuded casual authenticity.

The room also took an atypical shape, the stage area flanked by two additional sets of risers for the audience. Geometric patterns were taped to the stage and the back wall by designer Ben Zamora. Composer and DJ Waylon Dungan, aka WD40, hovered over his rig near the back wall where he would run sound for the night.

The cipher—the circle in which B-boys take turns showing their moves—transitioned to a battle, a dance-off between two all-male trios that featured a full complement of breakdance showmanship and defied gravity to waves of dazzled applause. A ballerina can pirouette en pointe for what seems like forever; some B-boys can plank, stretched out horizontally, spinning their entire bodies around and around on a single hand.

Perhaps a cast of B-boys comes with an audience expectation about head spins and handsprings. If so, O’Neal scratched that itch early and promptly moved on to a more integrated, hybrid choreography full of poetry and purpose. The piece transitioned again as the guest battlers (Dogg Pound Crew) exited after the battle. Until that point, the movement seemed at least partially improvised, as is usually the case with B-boying. But then the choreography really kicked in. Left alone on stage, Michael O’Neal Jr.’s movement shifted, incorporating other styles of dance, an outstretched leg, pointed toes and modern phrases. From that moment forward, the work churned deeper and deeper into a sea of powerful, interwoven cultural ideas, a meditation in motion."

Read the rest of the article at City Arts