A Thumping Raging Explosion of Light and Marvelous Texture

Yellow Tape's latest doesn't thump or rage but whispers something wonderful to you

Arts Review

A Thumping Raging Explosion of Light and Marvelous Texture

Salvage Vanguard Theater, through Oct. 11

Running time: 1 hr

Yellow Tape Construction Company's new dance production begins maybe not the way you'd expect from a show titled A Thumping Raging Explosion of Light and Marvelous Texture. Six women are seen balancing precariously on six small tree stumps as members of the band Masonic strike up some friendly chords in a major key. The dancers seem worried and afraid, like little girls unsure if they should jump in the swimming pool or not. Before long, one of them tumbles off, and such begins an hour of gleeful, childlike exploration.

It's not a nuclear bomb or a stadium rock concert from row three or anything, but it is a lot of fun. The six dancers scamper, cavort, dash, tiptoe, and leap about the stage in just the way you might have if the make-believe games you played as a kid were choreographed in visually interesting patterns. They even take turns jumping in leaf piles, a staple image of the kid's perfect autumn.

It's a curiously feminine show – not in the way of Eve Ensler's Vagina Monologues but in subtler ways, like the occasional moments of idle chatter or the ways the dancers organize their play with whispers, giggles, and short-lived alliances. Resentment over a stolen toy is as fleeting as the dancers' delight in new discoveries in the space around them.

Choreographer and dancer Amanda Butterfield has developed an idiosyncratic style that draws heavily on that fanciful sense of play. She balances movements and patterns well across her stage. There's repetition but not redundancy.

Her work also relies on dancers who can commit fully to each moment, and this cast does. While these dancers are talented as dancers, the choreography of A Raging Thumping Explosion doesn't hang on the whiz-bang technical skills of professional dancers who can execute the perfect pirouette. Their work here is next to acting, and the six ladies of this cast know how to play out that sense of a new idea or a changing mood.

As a company, Yellow Tape has made a practice of collaborating with local musicians in its shows. The upbeat, cheerful music of Masonic is a good fit for Butterfield's style.

If there's any less-than-positive criticism to be found, it's that the title doesn't quite match the experience of watching the performance. The show is less a "thumping raging explosion" than something gentler and more delightful – something caught up in a reverie of memory and play. It is energetic and fascinating, but it does not go boom. It holds your hand and whispers something wonderful in your ear.

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A Thumping Raging Explosion of Light and Marvelous Texture, Yellow Tape Construction Company, Amanda Butterfield

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