Dancing on the dark side 

The Scarlet Letter and other dangerous dances
Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre
Pike Performing Arts Center
Oct. 26-27

Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre premiered an allegorical overview of Marilyn Monroe in 10 sections: life, innocence, fame, sin, redemption, love, pain, power, loneliness and death.

Hancock parsed Monroe’s tragic saga through popular songs Rachel Rutland Maryanovskaya lip synchs as Monroe, delivering through movement the psychological impact of the lyrics. We witness Monroe in a succession of solos, duets with Martin Casanova depicting the multiple molding forces bearing down on Monroe’s work and life, and with the company in various configurations. At first a willing subject of the paparazzi and later as a hunted, haunted prey, Maryanovskaya interacts with them to make us understand Monroe’s pain when she cannot convince them she has intellect and talent.

However, the most intriguing twist to this new interpretation of Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter is a corps of five dancers attired in the now-infamous white halter top-swirl-skirt dress and platinum blonde wig. Moving with, and in opposition to, Monroe they depict her straining mental condition.

The company as a whole maintains the intensity of a deeply disturbing situation that highlights shallowness about our society with people so heavily invested in “a star.” The question we walk away with is, don’t we have lives of our own?

The program opened with three works from the repertoire. The visually astonishing spotlight on Mexican artist Frida Kahlo would benefit from tightening — the audience gets the point without hammered repetition. The Remaining, on the other hand, is one of Hancock’s better pieces because of its succinct storyline and precision dancing. Cannibalism in the insect world has its mirrors in the world of two-leggeds.

With The Legend of Lizzie Borden, Hancock explores a variety of themes — death of mother, harshness of stepmother, weakness of father, hysteria of community — and twists them into the gallows dominating the stage. Heather King is a compelling Lizzie with Sophia Cothrel as her convincing younger self.

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Rita Kohn

Rita Kohn

Rita Kohn has been covering craft beer and the arts for NUVO for two decades. She’s the author of True Brew: A Guide to Craft Beer in Indiana.

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