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Travis Wall's 'Shaping Sound: After the Curtain'

by Kelly May
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Monday Jun 19, 2017
A publicity photo for "Shaping Sound: After the Curtain"
A publicity photo for "Shaping Sound: After the Curtain"   

On Saturday, June 17, Travis Wall's "Shaping Sound: After the Curtain" came to the Wang Theatre - Boch Center. "So You Think You Can Dance" alumni, Travis Wall and co-creators Nick Lazzarini, Teddy Forance, and Kyle Robinson, used a mash-up of dance styles and musical genres that showcased the athletic skill of the dancers.

Audiences don't often get treated to a mass marketed gay story, and it was refreshing to have a dance performance's story revolve around two men. The plot's "moral of the story" highlighted that hiding who you truly are brings angst not only to yourself but also to the people around you. Since the audience was primarily comprised of people under the age of 21, the message resonated well.

Dance performances tend to leave a lot of interpretation up to the audience. It's not unusual to have a post-performance discussion that starts with, "What do you think that scene was about?" "Shaping Sound: After the Curtain" went the exact opposite direction. Everything was spelled out... often on a large digital display as a dancer typed out his inner thoughts on a typewriter. When there was not a visual display of the words, the dancers would almost mime out the lyrics in the songs, like when they pretended to write or waved balls of lights to signify lanterns. The storyline spoon-feeding made the performance a little boring. There was little to think about; the show was only there to be consumed. But, perhaps I was not the right demographic.

The choreography of each scene was interesting. However, when all of the scenes were viewed together, the choreography became overwhelmed with gimmicks -- such as flying papers, floating lanterns, aerial duet, and dancing on couches. Any one of these scenes would be fantastic in a "So You Think You Can Dance" episode. However, when put all together, the set design and gimmicks threatened to overwhelm the power of the dancers. But, the dancers, a versatile hard-working ensemble, mostly kept command of the stage. The dancers were a skilled set of athletic professionals, and they performed well both in solos and in small groups.

"Shaping Sound: After the Curtain" is a good introduction to modern dance. It showcases the evolving field and feels in sync with pop-culture. It is a good part of the modern dance repertoire, but audience members who see a lot of modern dance may feel like they have graduated from this stage.

For more on Travis Wall's "Shaping Sound: After the Curtain," visit the Shaping Sound webpage.


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