When Travis Wall and Shaping Sound come to Buffalo, expect to jump, and when you jump, you jump high! Over the weekend, our dance community and dance enthusiasts gathered at Shea’s Performing Arts Center to see the highly anticipated show, “After the Curtain” produced by Travis Wall and Break the Floor Productions.
It all started with an eager audience awaiting as the lights go down and the show starts. But wait…suddenly the sound stops. A few more tries, still no sound! Wow, is this really happening? As the director of a local dance company, I am familiar with these types of instances, as they tend to happen on rare occasion. The crowd sits still and patiently waits, Then you hear a man yell out, “We are the City of Good Neighbors, we are here with you.” Audience members applaud and cheer and a few minutes later the show resumes with dripping lights, sparkling costumes and a captivating energy!
Fringe, feathers and rhinestone costumes set the stage of this late 1930s set. “After the Curtain” tells a story of an internal struggle by a man named Vincent searching for his creative voice after losing his one true love. Outside of the ‘mini curtain’ Vincent continues to revisit his typewriter as the story unfolds though a mirror image of himself, Jude. The flashbacks he experiences help to narrate the story through beautiful music, acting and dancing. Intense heartbeats and a signature movement pound a deep echo through the depths of our stomachs, as we wonder what will happen next in the emotionally tangled web. The show brings us through a frenzied life journey of love, sadness and perseverance.
The choreography was a fusion of Fosse inspired jazz, contemporary, tap, and even a beautiful aerial duet. Seamless partnering and acrobatic elements leave the audience with an intense, stunning performance. Shaping Sound dancers mimicked each beat through their movement showing their highly developed musicality and versatility in mastering the wide range of dance styles. They truly do, shape the sound. The music range was diverse and, personally, took me on an emotional sound roller coaster. Soft and fluid to percussive, wild and dynamic with blazing jazz horns through my eardrums.
I was happy and surprised to see a tap duet. Especially one that didn’t miss a beat!
Swanky couches, steel canes and floating papers were just some of the many props used throughout the evening. The scene changes were swift with moving stairways creating the ‘backstage’ area. Holli Simme, a local teacher, choreographer and performer was “…thoroughly impressed. I enjoyed how the set pieces were props as well, being added into the choreography and moving while the action continued.”
I was happy and surprised to see a tap duet. Especially one that didn’t miss a beat! Kaitlyn Jeziorski, a local performer says, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone play with tap in that form of volume levels before. They were so soft for parts of it and the build up was amazing.” My favorite piece of the show, ’Lanterns Lit’, showcased a contemporary dance in the dark, executed exquisitely with shapes of light. The dancers performed it with precision, ease and fluidity. The audience could feel the sense of spirits through the lighting and music. It was simply breathtaking. Flashy white and gold tuxedo jackets with sequin gloves and Fosse inspired movement ends the show, with a standing ovation!
After the show, our crew was lucky enough to stay for a ‘meet and greet’ with the cast. Young and adult dancers eagerly await the arrival of the stars. Although I would have preferred something a little more organized, I was grateful for the opportunity to talk with some of the cast afterwards. Rory Freeman said, “This is the 4th time we have done this show and the first time we’ve had technical difficulty. It was one of our best audiences yet. It really brought up our morale, hearing the audience eager and ready to see the performance even though there were sound issues.”
Kara Mann, director of Free Soul Dance said, “The company brought a very risky and raw show, bringing their artistry to the forefront. Although their technique as a company is beautiful and all of the dancers are capable of amazing tricks, it was cool to see them explore this new choreography with tricks appearing in all the right places, but not at all driving the pieces. This must have been a real challenge for them to tell such a complex and thematic story. They did a great job! I’m excited to see where this company goes in the future!”
Lead image: Shaping Sound – @lisakohphoto