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Chunky Move at the ICA

The Australian troupe Chunky Move performed its 2004 work I Want to Dance Better at Parties at Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art tonight. It’s part documentary narrative, part comedy, part kinetic metaphor about the pleasures and terrors of social dancing.

The show developed out of interviews choreographer Gideon Obarzanek conducted with five guys around Melbourne, where the company is based. The fellows tell their stories in voice-overs. The title comes from a man left lonely after his wife has died. A woman he dances with at a party tells him, “It was great fun dancing with you, but you ought to learn to move your shoulders or your butt a bit.” So he takes ballroom and Latin dance lessons, but they’re too formal. He realizes “I want to learn how to dance at parties.” And he does. Ultimately the show’s about men, their bodies, and love.

The performance moves from country western clogging to traditional Israeli dancing to a scene in which deeply-breathing dancers seem to inflate and deflate like holiday lawn ornaments. The moment that sticks in my head: A woman swaying to a slithery, sultry belly dance gets tackled by a guy flying out of the wings. And a brawl erupts.

This is the first time the troupe has performed in Boston (though they’ve performed at Jacob’s Pillow in Becket, Mass.). Additional performances at the ICA are at 8 p.m. March 28 and 3 p.m. March 29.

Marcia B. Siegel reviewed Chunky Move's performance of I Want to Dance Better at Parties at Jacob's Pillow in 2007.






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