The dance perforce "LDV" was a reunion, of sorts.
Choreographer-dancers Helen Hatch of Hatch Dance and Berit Ahlgren of HoneyWorks had teamed up a year ago for the zesty "bolerobolero," set to Maurice Ravel. Last weekend, the two got together again to co-choreograph, along with the cast of dancers, a new piece inspired by the classic 1960 Federico Fellini film "La Dolce Vita."
The exuberant work captured the whirling gusto of the film and emanated bacchic revelry. The performance took place at the same space as a year ago — outside of the Lab, an experimental brewery and taproom in St. Paul, as part of "Live @ the Shed."
It was a BYOC (bring your own chairs) show and members of the audience found places to sit amid a curious accumulation of feathers before the 8 p.m. performance. The covered parking lot turned outdoor stage seemed to have been hit by a flock of shedding geese and there were feathers everywhere.
Before the world premiere of "LDV," Hatch Dance and HoneyWorks presented a series of works in progress titled "Opening Acts." In Hatch's short duet, "Lighthouse," ethereal music of the Icelandic band Amiina created a nostalgic accompaniment for the doll-like movements of dancers Nicole Brown and Scott Willits, who floated with precise clarity. "Bog Man," meanwhile, featured choreographer and performer Elena Hollenhorst's reptilian agility.
The main thrust of the evening, "LDV," came after a short break, and featured a huge cast. Twenty-six dancers took the stage dressed in fabulous early 1960s outfits. Halter tops, capri pants and patterned shifts abounded. Some of the most delightful moments were when the entire cast performed synchronous gestures. Dancers also employed striking tableaus that invited the audience to step into individual moments of the party.
Hatch and Ahlgren had fun with timing. Broad sweeping choreography would suddenly shift to staccato steps on tiptoe leading to spontaneous moments of sudden change and humor.
The vocabulary was drawn from 1960s social dancing, and also took on the spirit of the drunken dreamscape that is "La Dolce Vita." Like the film, Ahlgren and Hatch jumped episodically between vignettes, incorporating motifs from the film as well as its bursting frenzy.
That's where the feathers came in, mimicking the scene in "La Dolce Vita" where an attempted orgy ends with feathers being flung over the inebriated partyers. Crew members quickly swept up the feathers after the conclusion of the dance, but with the wind blowing, some got away. It was a moment that would have worked better in an indoor space.
But since we are still in a pandemic, perhaps we can allow a few disparate feathers.
Sheila Regan is a Minneapolis arts journalist and critic.