What Girls are Made Of
By PAUL SHECKARSKI, Urban Tulsa, 7/09/2008
Visiting dance troupe celebrates the female form
The advertising reads like this: "With his lederhosen in check, he settled in to feast his eyes and ears on the artistic victuals set before him."
"Her choreographic arrangements brought the world together by questioning conventional ideals and appreciating life in its simplest form... [The dancers] mystify onlookers as they swirl and jingle and dance their voo-doo dance."
Okay... but what is it?
It's the Kabaret Falschtanz (translation: Pseudo-dance Theater), performing a show entitled Sugar and Spice at the Nightingale Theater on Sat., July 12.
And why "pseudo-dance?"
Let's check the website: "Pseudodance is an outcast among dance companies. They are the opposite of what a nice dance company is supposed to be."
"By day they wear pretty pink tutus, but at night they strip away all pretence. These ladies don't fit the ideal for a proper dance company. They are a false one: a pseudo dance company."
Sounds like a company that demands closer examination. Lucky for the piqued reader, all the investigative footwork has already been performed.
In an online interview, Lynna Schneider, artistic director of the Kabaret, said, "Sugar and Spice is a show that will combine our more intense concert work with our cabaret-style choreography."
Kabaret Falschtanz aims to deliver a fusion of formal dance work and more accessible stylings.
"[Our theater] was created to challenge the standard of form and beauty in performance art, to promote accessibility to concert dance, and to support artistic diversity in Oklahoma," Schneider said.
The Kabaret performs most of its shows in Oklahoma City, where it is based. This one-night-only engagement on the 12th is a unique opportunity to see the group here in Tulsa.
According to Schneider, the Kabaret started five years ago as a venue for locally trained dancers to perform concert dance without having to be "shuffled off to either coast."
But what of the provocative advertising? The scintillating Internet site? The fact that their last performance seems to have been at something called the Carnality Ball?
"[Each] body type is a unique work of art," Schneider went on to say. "No dancer should look the same as another."
The group's performances focus on the human form, in all its forms.
Consequently, the Kabaret's performances are erotic in nature, though "sensual is a more appropriate word," according to Schneider. Advertisements rate the performance as NC-17, but Sugar and Spice isn't a sex show. It's a celebration of the human body.
"[The] dancers' bodies encompass a wide range of shapes and sizes. Some are moms. All are absolutely gorgeous," Schneider said.
Schneider stresses "beauty" and "creativity" as the two values the company upholds.
"I love meeting people, [and] helping students find another form of self-expression that enhances their feeling of self-worth," she said.
Schneider has two assistant directors, Leila Pourbabaee and Naisha Morris, whom she calls her "second and third in command," inspiring visions of a battle-ready cadre of ballet dancers.
Pourbabaee has been dancing since she was four. She has studied many forms, such as jazz and tap, though has focused on ballet. She teaches ballet at the Metropolitan School of Dance and has been with the Kabaret since 2004.
Morris has been with the company for three years. She studied at the Metro School of Fine Arts and performed with the Dance Theatre of Oklahoma before joining the Kabaret.
Schneider herself has a bachelor's degree of science in Dance Education from the University of Central Oklahoma.
In addition to their training, the dancers share a love of a wide variety of musical genres. Usually they dance to live music performed by Otto and The Hearty Bavarian Peasant Stock and by Simple Tree. Unfortunately, during the Tulsa performance, these bands will be occupied with other projects.
Schneider is using the setback as an opportunity to introduce her audience to music with which they may be unfamiliar. The Kabaret often uses recorded music as well and has paid special attention to which songs they'll perform here in Tulsa.
"I believe our job is not merely to entertain, but to educate as well. It is our responsibility to expose the audience to music, dance, or even ideas that they may never have considered before. So, we use Dresden Dolls, Bjork, Jimmy Hendrix, Pretty Balanced, Mozart, Gem, Asleep Audience Dream and many others," said Schneider.
According to her, the Kabaret can open the doors on genres and forms that audiences may have previously dismissed. She admits that the formal strictures of dance theory may convince the average person that, since he doesn't understand dance, he can't enjoy it.
"I think that's what keeps many away from concert dance. [My] goal is to show that you don't need to understand, just appreciate the ride," said Schneider.
The Kabaret employs some light audience participation to help audiences to do just that. Schneider recognizes that such participation can make people uncomfortable, and has designed the performance in order to avoid such discomfort.
"We do not force participation, but we do communicate with [the audience]," she said.
Schneider places great importance on the meeting of minds. She wants her audiences to encounter new kinds of dance and music. She prizes artistic collaboration both on and off the stage. She is careful to point out the numerous artists and teachers with whom she and her fellow dancers have studied.
What can be more welcoming than a sentiment like that?
Kabaret Falschtanz will perform Sugar and Spice on July 12, 8pm in the Nightingale Theater, 1416 E. 4th St. The performance will last approximately two hours. Tickets are $10.