Near the end of "Dance Between the Lines," Tuesday at the Roxy, lead dancer and assistant choreographer Gregory De Silva speaks to the audience of his joy in "communicating how I feel--giving you something from my heart through the movement."
Trouble is, not one of the 20-odd dances in this energetic San Francisco revue expresses any human emotion whatsoever. For all the sentimental talk about the dance world between numbers, the movement communicates nothing but hard-sell self-aggrandizement.
Although she never risks a statement of feeling, choreographer Ann Marie Garvin tries everything else: frenzied exhibitions of jazz, tap, ballet, break- and flashdancing; mindless homages to Broadway, Hollywood and Las Vegas; labored attempts at comedy.
There's even a campy vampire number where chorus boys wear bat wings and hang upside down on a pole while Snowy Winters (that's her name) executes haughty turned-in bourrees and then is hauled over the head of Christopher Solari while clutching her toe.
But Garvin is no stylist, and even staging ideas that have worked well for other choreographers (the elastic cat's cradles out of Alwin Nikolais, for instance) fall flat or go nowhere. Thus the 15 dancers have to virtually kill themselves to sustain mediocre material--and their performance achieves all the ease and spontaneity of penal servitude.
Consider Jana Macke's tap solo--flashy in speed but utterly unmodulated in dynamics, stomped out as if she had been ordered to strip-mine the stage. Consider Solari's fine lifts, Winters' great flexibility, Nathan Prevost's sharp legwork, De Silva's overall expertise: How much brighter might these skills shine in distinctive, focused and expressive choreography?
Another matter, and a touchy one: This company is full of tiny men, giant women and people with problematic physical proportions (such as being unusually gangly, wide-hipped or short-waisted). Thus they have made themselves a professional career in dance against the odds, and it is no pleasure to see them so misused--and so badly costumed--in what should be their showcase.
Partly on tape, partly supplied by a hard-working three-member band and always overamplified, the music is just as aggressive as every other element in this delirious production. Show times: Tuesdays through Sundays at 8, with an extra 10:30 p.m. performance on Saturdays and a Sunday matinee at 2.