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Monica Bill Barnes & Company: Happy Hour

  • Dance, Contemporary and experimental
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Happy Hour—Dance review by Eva Yaa Asantewaa

Elton John and Neil Diamond play on the sound system while a peppy host hollers into a mic, offering Old Fashioneds, white wine and popcorn. Folks pull out singles and twenties for a quick raffle; a stranger sitting next to you asks how your day has gone. The long space—decorated sparsely with balloons, streamers and white Christmas lights—buzzes with chatter. While you might forget you’re at Gibney Dance to see a dance performance, you are, in fact, being warmed up for Happy Hour, a new treat from the resolutely entertaining choreographer Monica Bill Barnes and her longtime co-conspirator, Anna Bass.

By the time Barnes and Bass turn up in men’s suits and fedoras, everyone’s already giggling. They are a pair of slick vaudevillians, hanging back a while, sizing up the crowd before launching their assault—staccato moves, coordinated hoofing, all-around hustling to everything from Judy Garland to Dvorák to Elvis. The dancers are elegant clowns vying for our attention; they know how to get spectators to do their bidding (and, now and then, how to get on each other’s nerves). For all they’re willing to give–and that’s often full on, full tilt dancing—they also want their due.

I will leave you to discover the many, many surprises in this showbiz charm offensive. However, one warning: If Barnes or Bass ever locks eyes with you, don’t dream she can be merely applauded away. Neither one can be gotten rid of so easily.

Gibney Dance: Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center. Choreographed by Monica Bill Barnes. 1hr. No intermission.

Written by
Eva Yaa Asantewaa


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