The sex life of plants became fodder for a radiant queer disco night in "Honey," making Red Eye Theater bounce last weekend.
Borrowing energy and sensibility from club dancing, Scott Stafford's choreography shone with sweeping and luminous flow and pristine technique. The dancers were in step with Stafford's vision and one another.
Stafford premiered the work in 2021 outdoors at the Walker Art Center. This year, he presented it as part of the Red Eye's curated rental program. Unfortunately, on Friday's opening night there were technical issues with the lighting design by Søren Olsen. So the audience only saw one setting without changes in the lighting throughout the show. But the production did get its giant lit-up butterfly working, a glittery spectacle highlighting the show's pollinator theme.
With a cast of luminous dancers, many with gender presentations on different points of the binary, Stafford wove in metaphors of bees, butterflies and other insects with cheeky delight.
As symbols of transformation, beauty, procreation and resilience, the butterfly was an apt metaphor for the club dance floor, as well as queerness and trans-ness. Stafford's choreography sprinkled in imagery from plants, as well. The dancers floated their arms heavenward as if reaching their leaves to sunlight.
Stafford, Timo Wagner and Adam Salame were prominently featured in the piece. They were mesmerizing with the specificity to which they moved their bodies whether they were sashaying across the dance floor, voguing ferociously in synchronicity or showing off just how high they could leap. They also had solo moments and seemed to luxuriate in the power of drawing attention through their virtuosity and sensuality.
A second trio, called the "Featured Butterflies" (Gabby "The Baddie" Abram, Domino D'Lorion and Sharon Picasso), sometimes acted like backup dancers, supplementing the showier moves of the main trio. At moments they boogied like a train across the back while the primary dancers performed in the foreground.
At other times, all six danced together with a celebratory abandon.
Set to an original sound design by David Morales, who for a decade collaborated with Mariah Carey to create club remixes of her hits, "Honey" seemed to invite audience members to groove in their seats. And Friday's performance drew whoops and whistles from the crowd.
With wonder and fun, "Honey" was a kind of clarion call to new possibilities and new ways of being.