PICK "Men in Dance": They're Not Just for Lifting Anymore

With cameos by Edward Gorey and Thelonious Monk, this uni-gender festival satisfies.

In its seventh year, this equal-opportunity showcase is a real grab bag, ranging from seasoned artists at the top of their careers to young enthusiasts just starting out.One of the biggest pleasures this year is the appearance of skilled artists who aren't seen often enough on local stages. Anthony Peters, genial in his two-tone tap shoes, mines the rhythmic variety of Thelonious Monk's "Dinah" like a current-day Bill Robinson. Christian Swenson continues to operate in the "other" category of dance and music, translating his personal version of scat-singing into movement. Home from gigs with Alvin Ailey and other Broadway companies, Stanley Perryman adroitly choreographs and performs two numbers from Pippin, both of them eerie glorifications of war.Steve Casteel's Emulous is at the other end of the spectrum: His cleanly crafted choreography for a trio of student dancers allows neophytes to shine, but the work could easily accommodate skilled technicians. Wade Madsen and Donald Byrd both up the technical ante, but in different directions. Byrd's Dioscuri for Danny Boulet and Sylvain Boulet is straightforwardly dark and intense, while Madsen's Going dresses its tricky challenges for Markeith Wiley in a shimmer of sinuous ease.Unseen but on the bill this weekend are a duet from PNB's Olivier Wevers and a performance by Brian Joe in his Ballet Grandiva persona (Yoko Moshi-Moshi) of Mikhail Fokine's The Dying Swan.Deborah Wolf closes the program with her droll The Hipdeep Family, a raucous treatment of some Edward Gorey stories. Led by Roger Curtis doing a Groucho Marx turn in academic robes, her dancers romp through the jungle and the ballroom like "bats doing the cancan" (as the song lyrics go). It's a silly and satisfying way to end the fest.

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