The Rat Girls are an absurdly funny duo from Austin that poke fun at art and culture while wearing detachable tails, scarfing wieners, and clogging to Beyoncé. The satire is craftier than that sentence might imply. Also in the lineup, The Nonsense Music Band, a one-man orchestra (namely Dug Falk) administered a nerdy brand of anecdotal hip hop that served as an entertaining conclusion to a lengthy program.
Once seated in the “observation room,” the viewers submit to a mixed-media collage of investigative reports regarding government testing and use of mind control methods. Documentary film clips covering the CIA’s illegal and supposedly abandoned human research programs MK-ULTRA and Project ARTICHOKE are scattered throughout. Unfortunately, audio within the small, industrial room is often muffled making these curious little nuggets of intelligence difficult to decipher.
Delivering the strongest male performance of the evening, Kerry Jackson is trapped in a box of light. His passionate tirade in Consumed, an introduction to Kate Skarpetowska’s slightly scary world of driven conformists. Leaping from the stage he escapes an army of “suits” that urge surrender to their worker bee mentality. A Julliard alumni, Skarpetowska has danced for David Parsons, Lar Lubovitch, and newly named Alvin Ailey Artistic Director, Robert Battle. These influences are clear in athletic choreography, rich with human peculiarities.
The performers are a septet with distinctive instrumentation. Like a good jazz composer, Lehrer knows how to flaunt each of his dancer’s unique qualities. Rehearsal director and a founding member of the young company, Marideth Wanat is versatile and can deliquesce into harmonies. However, with a spunk that sets her apart, she captivates when working alone, as in her emotive solo The Way Within. Chosen recently as one of Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch,” Wanat is the saxophone.
Texas New Tap, a newly established production company whose purpose is to promote tap education and enthusiasm throughout the greater Houston area will launch Space City Tap Fest on February 26, 2010. Faculty will include astonishing young talent and 2009 Dance Magazine Award winner, Jason Samuels Smith, as well as emerging leaders Chloé and Maud Arnold.