Happy feet

Chico Dance Theatre Showcase Harlen Adams Theatre, Dec. 3-5

When you are bored out of your mind by the cutely condescending, not-particularly-athletic sameness of the Moscow Ballet, which performed in Chico a few weeks ago, where do you turn? The Chico Dance Theatre Showcase, of course—for something more varied, more fanciful and more fun.

This local show—powered by Sue Pate and a collection of area choreographers, lighting designers and costumers—gets better each year. And, relatively free of the two-seconds-of-fame shouts from various boy- and girlfriends in the audience, last weekend’s Around the World performance was sophisticated, thoughtful and totally enjoyable.

Some personal reactions. The biggest stretch and the most fun for me was a playful spoof on the Greek legends of Iphigenia, Cassandra and (mostly) Medea, with a black-clad “Chorus” wailing from the floor and accompanying music ranging from “I Come from Alabama” to Albinoni’s Adagio. This was cool indeed. Quite lovely was a scarf-across-the-shoulders-held-by-extended-hands dance Sue Pate brought home from her latest trip to Russia.

I also greatly enjoyed both Wayne Pease’s “Death and the Maiden,” in which the black-clad Death both mirrored and joined her not altogether unwilling victim, and Hàlène Hogue’s cleverly choreographed “Vanishing,” in which human dancers morphed into ominous, futuristic green monsters.

Overall, the costumes and colors were fresh, and the variety was fine. Two final (slightly darker) thoughts: (1) More than 95 percent of the dancers were white women. How can this be changed? (2) Shaking one’s hips and drawing one’s hands up one’s sides may be shorthand for "sexy," but sexy it ain’t.