It could have been a rave, a runway or a family holiday event as organized by the rogue cousins, but choreographer Jaime Carrera introduced his performance “Antihero” Saturday night as “an experiment” and the 100 or so patrons were deemed willing participants.
The vibe in the Made Here Pop-Up Gallery in Minneapolis was convivial, despite the January chill and the fact that the door had to be propped open while the audience arrived. Carrera circulated through the crowd, curating the preshow playlist and welcoming obviously enthusiastic supporters.
Carrera sported his opening get-up from the get-go: short-short stretchy pants that barely cradled his round belly, a dirty, flirty slip worn poncho style, and ruby ink drizzled over his otherwise pleasant face. The effect was sort of “mad pantless pirate,” antiheroic indeed.
He clicked the playlist for the six-song soundtrack and it was showtime. Carrera turned, struck a pose and then launched into a super-serious strut to “Cruel Summer,” Bananarama’s bouncy 1983 pop hit.
Co-conspirators Jennifer Arave and Kimberly Lesik soon joined him. Familiar movers in the local dance scene, their nudie underwear was artfully draped in plastic painter’s tarps, their hair teased into matted beehive ’dos, their eyes smoky powdered bruises. The trio’s pouty flounce through the aisles was hilarious.
The soundtrack pounded into Donna Summer’s “Hot Stuff,” but the mood in the room dropped and the dancers deflated, going through the motions less fierce, more fatigued.
Soon enough, a costume change re-energized the cast. Carrera bounced center stage in a tube of black velvet, smiling maniacally through choreography obviously cribbed from an ESPN cheer competition. Say what you may, this man has the beat.
Arave and Lesik joined, dressed in bad thrift dresses. The movement was spatial, kinetic and wonderfully fun, especially when the women subjected a prone Carrera to the torture of “glitter boarding.”
The women, their eye makeup now dripping down their pale faces, were central to a section that might be described as pole-dancing — if the columns centered in the Gallery performance area could be called poles.
Finally, Carrera entered wielding an impressive knife, promising dramatic action, perhaps a heroic moment after all. Instead, he unfurled a blood-red ribbon from the blade and it became a dancing wand in the style of rhythmic gymnastic dancing. It was all in fun, and the audience was in on it.
Amy Lamphere is a Minneapolis writer.