Review: Kyle Abraham’s theatrical love letter to the social dance

The couch is top off. Casual but comfortable-looking, covered in plastic, it’s used on stage throughout Kyle Abraham’s latest production, “An Untitled Love,” serving a function that couches usually do. do. Here it signals that this dance is a house party.

You can tell what it’s like to be a party by the soundtrack: a playlist that pulls together the three main albums of the great R&B great D’Angelo. It’s a sweaty, soulful track that’s mostly evocative bedroom love songs, with deep funks that are subtly kept and reliant on a low burner to never lose sight of. go mood.

The guests behave accordingly. In this hour-long production, which premiered in New York at Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Harvey Theater on Wednesday, dancers in Abraham’s company, AIM, come and go as if the stage were just an apartment. room in the house. They gathered on the couches to gossip and joke. They move and pair up and disappear for a while. Or – who can resist these grooves? – they decided to dance a bit.

And because these are gorgeous dancers, that dance is gorgeous, if the density is low: idiomatically harmonizing with the music but soaring high. You can imagine that this is what can happen when you meet these performers in their spare time, watch them go down like the rest but stumble across a murderous move or a a few perfect pirouets or a quick sync for a shared number of steps. And then back to chat, another instance of the same activity. “An Untitled Love” beautifully presents dance as an interpersonal communication. It’s an on-stage love letter to social dancing.

We didn’t hear the conversation at first, and then we did. In a recent interview, aristocratic elegant dancer Catherine Kirk described the show as a “Black Love” sitcom, and that’s correct. This is standard material, not as distinctive as D’Angelo’s voice. There are plenty of familiar, easy-to-understand jokes about calloused ankles, McRib sandwiches, churches, and men’s unreliability — common on the sitcom Black, but not so common in America. Brooklyn Academy.

Jae Nael is the main comic character who, after having dinner with Capri-Sun or some salad, quits alcohol, drinks too much. Kirk resists then gives in to Martell Ruffin’s advances, and during a break for the dancers, we hear her offstage monologue as she gets ready for a date with him, torn between “playing with boys” and the threat of lifelong celibacy. After he arrives, they seem, inexplicably, to go back to the first party or someone like that.

That gathering doesn’t sound like it’s meant to attract the police, but “Love Without a Title” takes a darker turn when D’Angelo’s voice blends with the crackling of the police, or the radio. EMT. One by one, the dancers lie face down on the floor, with their wrists crossed behind their back (as in some of the earlier Abrahamic dances). We hear Unknown voice of Doc Riversthe Los Angeles Clippers coach, marveled at how an unnamed “surname” spoke of fear when “we are the ones being killed,” and marveled “why we continue to love our country.” this, and this country doesn’t love us back.” Another kind of love and its obstacles.

And then there’s D’Angelo’s “Untitled (How Does It Feel),” which could be considered the show’s theme song. This is a duet by Kirk and Ruffin, but they are separated by a neon green line on the ground. She overcame it to take his weight in soft backbends but continued to recede into the dark as their bond remained unsettled. Alone, he creates a shattering explosion along with D’Angelo’s gospel scream, a piercing expression of the love within and all that holds it back.

Neal eases the tension with a joke, and we’re back to the party, with the cast gathered on couches to watch Tamisha A. Guy and Claude Johnson dance romantically. As theater, there are aspects of “An Untitled Love” that I find all too easy and familiar, both in the cozy comedy and commentary. It does not increase the magic of “Rock Lovers,” the 2020 Steve McQueen movie brings the world into a dance party. But in its good times is a lot of love.

‘A love without a title’

Come Saturday at the Brooklyn Academy of Music; Review: Kyle Abraham’s theatrical love letter to the social dance

Fry Electronics Team

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