Following in the footsteps of their first collaboration, last June's Hammers and Lambs, artist Patrick Fatica and choreographer Blue Star have reteamed for a new multi-venue multimedia experience, Shadows of the Waifs, which has been extended through March 24. Like their last production, the evening begins with an art exhibition accompanied by live music at the Hammered Lamb, and then moves up the street to The Venue for a VarieTease dance performance. Expanding on their last experiment, this time Fatica's artwork -- featuring the VarieTease dancers as models in dramatic makeup -- and Blue's choreography are much more tightly integrated, creating an artistic whole that is even more than the sum of its impressive elements.
Shadows of the Waifs presents a dark, psychologically challenging scenario that showcases how VarieTease has grown and matured over the years, since I first fell in love with the giddy eye-candy of Carnivale nearly eight years ago. This ambiguous tale of five women trapped together in an attic, wearing sweetly suggestive vintage nightgowns and engaging in compulsive self-destructive behaviors, is (like all great art) subject to multiple interpretations. Is Blue's central character the only "real," presence, with the others representing figments of her alcoholic imagination? Or are they all abstracted aspects of of a single fractured psyche?
Whichever you decide, the breadth of Blue's choreographic range is inspiring, evolving from minimalist pedestrian movement to balletic atheticism. Especially striking are moments that use props like a Tarzan-style swinging rope or dancing broom (elegantly manipulated by Tymisha Harris) in dynamic ways. Sitting in the front row, I had a truly intimate "in your face" experience, with feet and fists flying a few thrilling inches from my face. The immersive intensity is enhanced by Jef Shumard's soundtrack of haunting original music, which is supplemented by ecclectic commerical tracks from Concrete Blonde and Katzenjammer, along with grainy symbol-laden video clips created by Fatica and costume mistress Kyla Swanberg's sartorial stylings.
VarieTease and The Venue take an exciting leap forward with Shadows of the Waifs, which stands with Blue's best work. If I had any suggestions for improvement, it would be to finally ditch the distractingly inconsistent lip-synching (an unnecessary artifact of Blue's drag club origins) and integrate more choreographic partnering -- the dancers often move in unison, but rarely touch or weight-share. Minor critiques aside, this show reignighted my excitement to see what these complimentary creatives can come up with next.
Remaining shows: March 20, 21, & 24
$15 advanced or $18 at the door
Call 407-412-6895 for tickets
Show starts at 8pm sharp at The Hammered Lamb, continues at 9pm at The Venue
The Hammered Lamb: 1235 N. Orange Ave. Orlando, FL 32804
The Venue: 511 Virginia Drive Orlando, FL 32803