Wood’s ‘Bolero’ builds on city noises and lusty pairings

Special to The Times

Just when you thought you’d had it up to here with Ravel’s bouncy war horse, “Bolero,” choreographer Bruce Wood comes along and blows preconceived notions and calloused cliches out of the water.

By turns sadomasochistic, outrageously haughty and downright sexy, the Fort Worth-based Bruce Wood Dance Company, in its Los Angeles debut Friday at El Camino College’s Marsee Auditorium, brought new revelations to the French classic.

Admittedly, Wood tweaked Ravel’s score by layering on a sound collage of city noises, macabre laughs and airport announcements, heightening the crescendos. As for the dancing? It thrilled, with long-legged women strutting in satin and lace (costumes by Wood), swaggering tux-clad men, and full-force erotic partnering.

Posing as seated voyeurs were pearl-bedecked damsels and a pair of men, splay-legged, tied to chairs. Decidedly decadent, Wood’s 2001 retelling is not your mother’s “Bolero.”


The more classical “Local 126" (2001) saw Wood using Bach piano and string concertos as 10 dancers gallivanted in robotic unison with elongated strides.

Characterized by stiff upper torsos, the arms, nevertheless were constantly moving, evoking servitude a la Charlie Chaplin’s “Modern Times.”

Completing the program was the mournful “Red” (2001). Set to a Philip Glass violin concerto, the stage was awash in Tony Tucci’s ravishing scarlet lighting, as nine crimson-garbed dancers again gesticulated with their arms, this time struggling against loneliness.

Wood needn’t worry -- he’s welcome in this town anytime.