Monday, April 07, 2008

footlosing it

The more drinks I had on Saturday night (thank you to all y’all who helped me celebrate—pictures coming soon!), the more I found myself talking about Freak Dance: The Forbidden Dirty Boogaloo.

If I were not so mature, maybe I would have been doing the forbidden dirty boogaloo on my birthday, but at the ripe old age of 31, I was happy to simply proselytize Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre’s brilliant and hilarious spoof of dance movies, which I shall now proceed to do on my blog as well:

Riffing on everything from Footloose to Save the Last Dance (with a little HMS Pinafore, Gypsy and West Side Story thrown in for old times’ sake), Boogaloo is populated with such archetypal favorites as The Rich Ballerina Who Wants To Dance Street and The Guy From The Barrio Who’s Dancing For His Dead Brother (which he reminds us of every five minutes before turning his head and saying he doesn’t like to talk about his dead brother).

The plot begins as pure parody: The good-but-poor kids at Fantaseez Dance Center must save their community center (which is plastered with “encouraging” posters all too recognizable to those in the nonprofit biz—my favorite was a photo of a wistful looking cat beneath the caption “Try Harder”) from an evil building inspector because, of course, Dancing Is Their Only Way Out. But the story takes a turn for the absurd when we learn more about the surefire steps that will win the Big Dance Contest—the Forbidden Dirty Boogaloo has been known to burn off boys’ penises (or “dance lumps” in the parlance of the show) and flat-out kill girls (talk about “What I Did For Love”).

Such a show could easily be a stage version of a Scary Movie-style spoof, a genre I mostly dislike (with the exception of Wet Hot American Summer). It didn’t help that most of the cast could not actually sing or dance all that well (with the exception of Angela Trimbur as Sassy, a sort of ghetto Jessica Simpson who, we learn in a Very Special moment, cannot read).

But Boogaloo succeeds big time because it’s both more ridiculous and more serious than most spoofs. Beneath the ‘80s breakdancing getups and the five-sock-big dance lumps, there’s an actual theme, which is: What is dancing about? This is a genuine critique of films that suggest dance has everything to do with poverty and passion and nothing to do with training or talent. The characters frequently remind us that dance is about all things good (“Reading is what dance is all about!” the kids tell Sassy) and nothing bad. Even the dirtiest dirty dancing is about love, not sex. Come on. Dance lumps are for balance, okay?

Highlighting the humor of the Fantaseez team are several interstitials by a crew of actual breakdancers. They’re good, they’re unassuming, they’re diverse, they’re not wearing legwarmers…and their performance offers an unspoken explanation of what dance actually is about.

See it for some straight-up good moves or see it for yo-mama jokes performed as Broadway showstoppers. But see it! (And it’s only $10, less than a movie ticket to Step Up 2: The Streets.)


Veronica said...

you should have danced the boogaloo :)

Laura and the family said...

Come on Cheryl! Just don't sit and watch. Get your butt moving and do the dancing the boogaloo :-) (Oh, did I say that??? Bet you didn't expect to hear this message from your cousin, huh?) Also, don't forget to have someone videoing you (winks)

Cheryl said...

Got to save something for my 32nd birthday, right?