Dancing for Dummies
By Robert Kreutzer
When it comes to dance, I’m essentially a knuckle-dragger who couldn’t tell you the first thing about jazz, contemporary or ants-in-the-pants dance. No doubt, Casebolt and Smith are well aware of the legions of low foreheads like myself and their program, “O(h)!” is tailored to those of us who find dance akin to spectator paint-drying.
The hour-long presentation held Friday night at the UCR Barbara and ArtCulverCenterof the Arts inRiverside, was all Casebolt and Smith. With tongues poking holes in their cheeks, the dancers show was about themselves, a little more about themselves, with a little extra added stuff about themselves.
Liz Casebolt and Joel Smith spared no irreverence, never mind that both are dance teachers. Smith teaches at UC Riverside, amongst other places while Casebolt plies her trade atLos AngelesValleyCollege. Both are alumni of UCR.
It got a little narcissistic at times, but “O(h)” was a brisk hour, thanks in no small part to the duo’s yakking hijacking of well-known music with their own off-the-cuff lyrics and a whole slew of stream-of-consciousness banter.
Casebolt handled much of the singing chores, while the bigger dance theatrics fell to Smith.
The duo opened and closed the show talking and dancing about gestures, dressed in matching charcoal outfits, they synchronized hand gestures and quite deliberately got way more detailed than we really ever needed about hands.
Smith was purposely gratuitous in reminding the audience he was gay, references to which speckled the whole performance. For a part of the show, performed in his blue Superman skippies, complete with an “S” marking the spot, while Casebolt noted how almost nobody in the audience was looking at her, even after she stripped down, albeit to rather conservative ’60s style bikini underwear.
“Proud Mary” of Ike and Tina Turner vintage, got the C and S treatment, turning it into a melodic treatise about the basics of dance. During the signature chorus “rollin‘,” they pointed at Smith and sang “gay.”
Goofing a bit on “I Feel Pretty” from the musical West Side Story, Casebolt opined on how women rely to much on men’s whims for their self-image. Casebolt asked the audience “why does it always have to be a boy that makes us feel pretty?
She also riffed on beauty pageants saying, “It’s like you wear your underwear in front of a bunch of strangers. I just couldn’t do that.”
The two turned musical historians for a piece accompanied not so much by music but by a narrative on the iconic drum break from the Winston’s “Amen Brother,” a beat which has been resurrected time and time again in hip hop, trance and other genres. This gave Casebolt and Smith the chance to show off some break-inspired movements, even when there was no actual beat to dance to.
The show finished up with the two faux-hashing out a finishing routine, commenting on how it has to be happy and exaggerating low-pitched singing, then a reprise about gestures. The show succeeded in taking an art form ripe for self-parody and making fun of it while at the same time remaining respectful.