Vintage Steps

A charming (but not too retro) cabaret antidote to post-holiday stress.

The Century Ballroom's gently sparkling new production, Tout de Suite, pays tribute to both its vaudeville ancestors and their trendy descendants of today. It's a come-to-life stage version of those movie musicals in which everyone meets at the club to put on a show. Or, if you prefer a TV analogy: Tout de Suite also recalls those old prime-time variety programs that offered a straightforward collection of separate acts, rather than a story or overarching theme.Tout opens with the saucy Lauchettes (Monica Gilliam, Ricki Mason, and Jenna Bean Veatch), who periodically return to link the evening's stage bits. Like the rest of the show, they give a sweeter interpretation of the hard-edged burlesque stereotype, more Ginger Rogers than Bob Fosse. This extends to the dances as well—not the high-test, hypersexualized versions we see on Dancing With the Stars, but very skilled steps we might learn ourselves.Indeed, many Tout performers are also teachers at the Century. Hallie Kuperman anchors a quartet of women in a belly-dance version of West Coast swing. Deron Hayes does a smooth salsa duet with Destiny Williams. And Alison Cockrill, in a tango quartet, has a dead-sexy stare under her black wig.In a Lindy Hop number, Stefan Durham nails the bounce that makes the dance work: that syncopated emphasis on the upbeat, so that the downbeat rings true. Partner Bethany Powell is like a rag doll as Durham swings her around, head shaking and curly hair bobbing to the rhythm.In their tap duet, La Twan Allen and Derrius Anderson provide a living tribute to the fabulous Nicholas Brothers, including the signature slides and leapfrog jumps that made the original pair so famous. Solo tapper Pam Yasutake has a more inwardly-turned style, listening to herself as she splits and re-splits the beat.Vocalist Deidre Pierson does a great job with a pair of World War II-era standards, "La Vie en Rose" and "Bei Mir Bist Du Schöen," managing to sound like herself rather than Edith Piaf or the Andrews Sisters. Accordionist Nova Devonie brings a whimsical attitude to her instrument, especially when working with Pierson.Probably the evening's most daring performer is Scott Davis. Mime is a punch-line these days, but his skit about a runner determined to eliminate his competition by any means necessary is silly enough to avoid the usual jokes.Tout de Suite concludes with a can-can, naturally. Then the tables are cleared for a brief class and open dancing. The difference between spectators and performers disappears, as the latter walk offstage to join the throng. Everyone finds a partner and starts to dance, just like in the

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