With Somebody Who Loves Me
Last night I had the pleasure of being invited to something that I had never heard of before; a “dansical.”
Now, you may be wondering as I was when I first heard what it is, “What is a Dansical?”
Well, as described by Frank Manzo, the producer, director and choreographer:
“Dansical (noun): A slick, funny (and a little dirty) dance show, similar to a musical but without cheesy singing; NOT a modern dance show or ballet. Expect no tutus or abstract motifs.”
Right after reading that, I was intrigued and wanted to know more. Now, a traditional musical would include lone singing, duets, group numbers and the like, however in this dansical, you don’t see that duet between the lovers, you find a pas de deux in its place. In a musical you typically see a large number right before intermission where everyone sings and gets together, while the dance is pushed to the back of the stage. Not in “With Somebody Who Loves Me.” Right before the intermission there is a large group dance number leaving the audience completely drawn in right before taking that short break. Leaving them with a desire to go back and see the rest of the performance. As well, and what I found my favorite part to be (other than the feats of physical and emotional strength portrayed by the characters in their dance numbers) was the video montages that would take place in between scene. Opposed to having characters voice out the happenings “back stage” where the audience may need information to fill in the story line, we saw beautiful videos which helped to keep the storyline on track for all those in attendance.
The purpose of this dansical was to illustrate that the same issues and challenges experience by those in the heterosexual community are experience by those in the LGBTQ community as well, and problems such as job less, depression, and relationship struggles are not solely concerns of the heterosexual community. It also highlighted the “masculine” phenomena that is often very prevalent in the gay community. Frank worded it as the “anti-effeminate preoccupation” and I couldn’t have thought of a better way to word it myself. It speaks to the matter that many gay men will want to date only “masculine” men, dismissing those who are more “effeminate” because of a multitude of potential reasons covering anything from an underlying possibility of misogyny or even a lack of willingness to accept their own sexuality.
When asked why he wanted to create a show such as this, Frank had this to say, “I am a dancer. But I’m also a storyteller. With this show I get to do both. I wanted to create a dance show where we would establish concrete characters and story by using movement, video and other staging, with no dialogue or singing, but focusing on dance. The idea is that the emotional intensity of a dance piece would resonate that much more if you could identify with a realized character, her motivations and, well, her story.”
I went into the performance not knowing what it would be, and not knowing what to expect. As soon as the lights dimmed and the performance started though, I was completely drawn into it, only moving in my seat to applaud when many of the feats of pure physical strength were portrayed by the dances. Employing a variety of dancers from multiple dance backgrounds really added to the performance and made it even more intriguing to watch for myself and the audience as a whole because it provided diversity in the acts, and made the interactions between the dancers on stage that much more intense, and that much more exciting to watch.
Running until August 19th, “With Somebody Who Loves Me” is definitely a performance you can not miss because there is nothing else like it. It is unique, it is powerful, it is funny, and it is sad. It takes you through a whole barrage of feelings from beginning to end and leaves you with a smile on your face. If you want to catch the performance before it ends, you can go to the Tarragon Theatre where it is being hosted and you can order tickets for it here . Don’t miss this before it leaves, because it is truly a performance you’ll be happy you witnessed.