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ARTS & CULTURE
Review

In 'New Faithful Disco,' Meg Wolfe and dancers groove through a wild night out

The party may already have been over when “New Faithful Disco” started, or perhaps it just had begun. The new dance piece by Los Angeles choreographer Meg Wolfe made its world premiere at REDCAT on Thursday, beginning where most nights conclude — in bed.

A low rumbling droned from the speakers as Wolfe, Taisha Paggett and Marbles Jumbo Radio (the dancer formerly known as Rae Shao-Lan) lay in lumps beneath crumpled blankets. They slowly crawled out from these covers on all fours, as if they were proto-humans emerging from the Earth’s primordial muck -- or partiers who were really hungover.

After ceremoniously folding up their bedding with a beautiful reverence for the extraordinary nature of ordinary tasks, Wolfe, Paggett and Radio seemed to embark on a wild night out at the discotheque.

Radio kicked her legs and spun her body like a Zen master possessed by the beat, while Paggett and Wolfe swirled, slid and grooved with a calm, cool and collected swagger to a playlist of mashed-up disco tunes. Imagine a soundtrack of the ’70s thrown into a tin can, rattled around a bit and spit out with some static on top. 

The abrasive sound and the dance’s nonstop pace tired the senses at times, excited them at others. There was one steamy moment when Radio and Paggett canoodled in the corner, breaking up the trio’s svelte and smooth riffs on a scratchy beat. But Wolfe’s piece held the most attention when it moved from the club-like atmosphere to greener pastures.

Changing light and the low hum of bees and birds signaled a shift to a forest setting, where each dancer donned a pair of golden reindeer antlers, becoming more animal than human. Standing shoulder to shoulder, stiff and straight, their eyes scanned the air for signs of danger. Like deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming truck, they appeared frozen, at risk of becoming road kill.  

Their feigned fear would have appeared more compelling if their headdresses looked a little less comical, but the props proved to have more magical properties as the evening continued. 

The three women conjured up some mystery when they formed a tightknit circle, bowing heads so that their antlered crowns clustered like a tangle of tree branches. Their long cloaks, appropriated from the blankets that covered them earlier, trailed like royal robes in their wake. Were they praying, whispering or reciting an incantation? The stunning tableau was full of alluring possibilities that tickled the imagination. Where does dance take us in the darkest of hours: To the club, to the occult?

Wolfe and her dancers preferred to answer such queries with a Sphinx-like expression, but like a good night out, “New Faithful Disco” left me deliciously exhausted by the possibilities. 

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