‘Divos (the Men)’ combines pop music with emotion-inducing dance

April 7, 2018

If you missed seeing Dance Kaleidoscope‘s smash hit “Divos” at last summer’s IndyFringe Theatre Festival, or wish to experience it again, here’s your chance. Choreographed by DK dancers, set to music of their favorite male singers, the pieces, along with two others by DK artistic director David Hochoy and guest choreographer Nick Owens, are included in “Divos (the Men)” presented on the Indiana Repertory Theatre OneAmerica Stage. The highly entertaining, diverse dance concert, which I attended Friday, has two more performances—Saturday at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

Mariel Greenlee dancing

Mariel Greenlee in”Dangerous Diana.” Courtesy of Crowe’s Eye Photography. Used by permission.

During Act 1, while watching the seven vibrant pieces created by Missy Thompson (set to music by Steven Tyler), Mariel Greenlee (George Michael), Paige Robinson (Queen), Brandon Comer (Michael Jackson), Jillian Godwin (Led Zeppelin), Timothy June (Johnny Cash), and Stuart Coleman (Rod Stewart), I couldn’t help but reflect on Hochoy’s artistic influence and that of his mentor, Martha Graham, which lives on in these dancers. I find it impossible to single out one individual piece because each had its own unique quality and merit. What they all had in common, however, was that, not only did they all wonderfully showcase the dancers’ talents, they each reflected their creator’s ingenuity, sensibilities, styles and deeply personal experiences as expressed in introductory comments offered by each choreographer prior to their performances. Upon seeing the thoughtful, often moving work of these promising choreographers, one can’t help but believe that one day, when they can no longer dance, these artists will teach and develop a whole new generation of performers to follow in their footsteps.

Brandon Comer dancing onstage

Brandon Comer in “Eltoniana.” Courtesy of Crow’e’s Eye Photography. Used with permission.

David Hochoy showed off his campy, fun-loving side in the world premiere of “Eltoniana” set to the music of Sir Elton John and Bernie Taupin during Act 2. Kicking off with Brandon Comer, wearing Elton’s signature 70s-era glasses along with the rest of the company in “Crocodile Rock,” the rest of his joyous piece consisted of sections set to “Tiny Dancer,” “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” and “Your Song.” All in all, the piece was a joyous, exhilarating joy ride.

After a pause, Nick Owens’s innovative piece “Rain,” set to music by Prince, began with a jolt to the senses when the lights came up to reveal the dancers, lighted by designer extraordinaire Laura Glover, in a stark tableau that foreshadowed something very special was about to unfold. Dressed in glitzy costumes fashioned by designer Guy Clark, the dancers wore socks, causing them to slide across the floor. The unconventional movement served to accentuate Owens’s take on Prince and the sexually-charged nature of his songs and persona.

DK apprentice Manuel Valdes, who danced the role of Prince, displayed uncommon talent and musicality that makes him one to watch. It was clear from his compelling performance that he has a bright career ahead of him. Owens’s work consisted of four sections to “When Doves Cry,” “I Would Die 4 U,” “Solo” (a sensual duet with Timothy June and my favorite sequence) and “Purple Rain.” Owens’s provocative piece truly captured Prince’s essence and reinforced why his death is such a blow to the music world and pop culture in general.

Another reflection that I had while watching the uplifting “Divos” was what a treasure DK is for our community and state. Though the audience was relatively small, it was mightily enthusiastic, but I was dismayed and disappointed for the DK company that the house was not as full as it should have been. For as much work and effort the organization puts into its productions, it deserves support. Hopefully, word of mouth will spread so that the remainder of the run will draw those who appreciate high-caliber performances from young artists who enhance our quality of life.

For tickets to “Divos (the Men)” call the Indiana Repertory Theatre box office at (317) 635-5252 or visit irtlive.com. If you enjoyed reading this review, please become a regular reader.  To subscribe, enter your info on the upper right hand corner of this page. 

photo: Josh Humble

About Tom

Journalist, producer, director, Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, arts administrator, TV contributor, actor, model, writer and lyricist, Tom Alvarez has had an extensive career in media and the fine arts and continues to be an enthusiastic and devoted fan of both. His passion and unique background grant him insight, access and perspective to cover, promote and review the arts in Indianapolis, Central Indiana and beyond. Follow him on social media @tomalvarezartswriter and @tomalvarez1.

Alvarez has been writing about theatre, dance, music, cinema and visual arts for 40 years. His work has appeared in the Indianapolis Star, NUVO, Indianapolis Monthly, Arts Indiana, Unite Magazine, Dance Magazine, NOTE Magazine, and Examiner.com, among many other print and online platforms. A former contributor to Across Indiana on WFYI-TV, he currently has a regular performing arts segment on WISH-TV’s Life. Style. Live!

A principal of Klein & Alvarez Productions, LLC, Alvarez co-created “Calder, The Musical” and is the managing director of Magic Thread Cabaret. As an actor-model, he has appeared in numerous TV and print ads and is represented by the Helen Wells Agency and Heyman Talent Artists Agency.

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