Pop-locking your way into a Halloween groove
Ever wonder what a dancing Herman Munster looks like? Fantasized about a sexy pirateress (translated: female pirate) who knew how to pop lock? Yearned for the day when you could see Dolce and Gabbana vogue?
Well, for those in attendance at Wednesday night’s Choreographers Carnival at the Key Club in West Hollywood, all those off-kilter desires came to life. In its ninth year, the Choreographers Carnival is a late-night monthly showcase put on by dancers for, well, dancers.
But Wednesday night would be more flamboyant than previous programs. It was, after all, the "Halloween edition."
Dismembered body parts, ghastly goblins and gruesome zombies –- all fake, of course –- dangled from the ceiling of the dimly-lit venue on Sunset Boulevard. Below the ghoulish decor, the pulsating beat of the music made the walls tremble and seduced the dancers in the audience into various moves as they waited for the show to commence.
And then a booming voice over the speakers declared, “Let’s rock!”
The show began.
More than a dozen dance groups strutted, shimmied and sashayed across the stage of the 114-capacity club –- indisputably ready to engage in a dance face-off with any zombie that should sluggishly make its way inside. The two-act program featured choreography from Razberry Jam, Kris Babao, Chantal Robson (yes, she's the sister of Wade Robson, who is best known for his work with Britney Spears and *NSYNC) and Kristen Lorello, among others.)
A foursome of women donning black spandex and leather pants got the crowd riled up with their contemporary performance set to the music of Franz Ferdinand's "Take Me Out." But it wasn't until Chad McCall appeared onstage -- appearing slightly confused (I think that was the point) -- in a dress, that the crowd went wild, pulling out their iPhones to snap a pic of the wacky performance.
But the act that gave the most spine-chilling performance featured choreography by 16-year-old Alec Clawson of Virginia. Clawson, who also served as the main performer of the piece, has performed in Carnival for the last five years. Wednesday night marked the first time he's choreographed for the showcase.
And, according to the shrieks and whistles, he didn't disappoint. Setting up the performance with a short film featuring a ventriloquist doll, Clawson (as the doll) and others later appeared onstage in boxed toy packaging. Once brought to life, the dolls huddled to the ground in a line-formation at the front of the stage while Clawson, to the beat of the tinkling music, hovered over each of them, his fingers tickling just above their bodies like he was playing keys on a piano until they all rose and effortlessly eased into the eerie hip-hop routine that was inspired by the 2007 horror movie "Dead Silence."
Things only got scarier when one group managed to include Gloria Estefan's "The Rhythm is Gonna Get You" into their music mix. And then there were the pair of dominatrix-looking dancers hanging onto chains. Why? I'm still unsure.
And what Halloween-themed event would be complete without a costume contest? From a naughty Rainbrow Brite to a Howdy Doody look-a-like to two guys claiming to be dressed as Dolce & Gabbana, those wearing costumes competed for the coveted first place ... with a dance-off, of course.
It seemed no amount of twirling or vogue-ing was enough of a match for Howdy Doody's pop-locking moves. The freckle-face marionette emerged as the winner and pop-locked his way off the stage:
These leggy ladies thrash about to choreography by Chantal Robson featuring Ashton Grant:
Chad McCall performing in a dress to a dance choreographed by Erica Sobol:
Photo credit: Yvonne Villarreal