nytheatre.com review by Lisa Ferber
August 19, 2007
The Hoarde is a colorful, exciting piece performed by 23 talented dancers. The story combines Greek theatre, West African folklore, and Egyptian myths. The music is varied and exciting: disco, soul, opera, drum beats, you name it. The dance styles are primal, balletic, jazzy, with some bits as modern as a hip-hop video.
In a word: hot.
It would be too easy to tell this story using one style of music and one style of dance. This is the tale of a violent tribe that takes over a weaker tribe, separating two new lovers, making concubines of the women, and in particular capturing the goddess Isis and enslaving her, forcing her to get pregnant.
The event was an exciting journey, not just through the story itself, which involved love and sensuality and death and revenge, but a trip through music: Carlos Santana's "Black Magic Woman," Roberta Flack's "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face," as well as various tunes by Donna Summer, Aaliyah, Lady Saw, Mandala Kumene, and others. Costumes are splashy and designed to celebrate the body.
Highlights of this show are many, but one is when we first encounter the marauding Hoarde who has come to take over the villagers. This is one scary, don't-mess-with-us band of villains. They show up on stage, frighteningly lit in red and wearing outfits reminiscent of S&M garb: Body-hugging red and black outfits in sharp cuts, made of what looks to be latex, with pointed black headgear and fingerless gloves ending in long black talons. When they dance, we know they mean business. They know they look good, and we know they are going to do some major damage before the story is done. In a following scene, members of the Hoarde strut across the stage, sassily turning to give the audience a look as they strut. They are proud of themselves and proud of their power, and they are serious.
Another highlight is the scene "La Maison du Sade," in which the women villagers are held as concubines, which then flows right into "The Wives," in which the concubines introduce Isis to her new home. This is one happening burlesque number. The ladies shake their stuff in brightly hued lingerie and look like they are having an absolute blast. It starts off seductive and ends up like a joyful girl party. There's a disco/hip-hop feel throughout this part and it is a true crowd-pleaser. Frankly this piece was so high energy and life-affirming that I wish it had come at the end of the show. I know it would have made no sense plotwise, but it was a definite feel-great moment for the audience.
What's amazing about this show is that it might be too easy to just read the description of the story itself and assume the show might be heavy. And yes, in good and interesting ways, the story is. But because the dance itself has so much life in it, the overall experience is a wonderfully good time.