Company Chameleon - Beauty of the Beast - Photo by Brian Slater

Company Chameleon: Beauty of the Beast

Company Chameleon - Beauty of the Beast - Photo by Brian SlaterBeauty of the Beast presents an engaging, sometimes humorous, examination of male dynamics across a range of personal and social situations. Presented by Company Chameleon, and choreographed by Anthony Missen, Beauty plays with and against a vast range of male stereotypes. The company moves sporadically through a variety of forms, from classical dance to theatrical farce, each lending a different set of eyes to notions of maleness.

Through the hour we meet a gang with ridiculous initiation rituals, a hip hop evolution of man, a trio with a man and his two vicious dogs, vulnerable male solos, and many more snippets of men. The sum of the parts may not add up to more than a mashup of maleness, but it is riddled with delights along the way.

The six-man company shows flashes of brilliance in their dance partnering, particularly whenever we find Thomasin Gülgeç on stage. Gülgeç’s movement blends elements of capoeira and martial arts in fluid, complex phrases marked by explosiveness and sensitivity. He is a joy to watch, and thankfully is used here with frequency.

In beginning of Beauty we find two dancers wearing only gently shaded spandex, moving with eloquence to refined classical music, and for a moment we believe this will mark the style of the afternoon. This phrase is quickly disrupted and mocked by a gang – a kind of fake-out, an aside to the audience that they will get funkier than we may have thought in those initial minutes. After games, jokes, and energized contemporary partnering investigations, we return to solo sections that harken back to the initial duet. There is some reflection on maleness there, but the web of machismo and sensitivity circles around itself with more eagerness than the high quality pure dance requires.

The final images bring us past the tights, the gangs, the dogs, and all the stops along the way with a clarity that reminds us of the shades of virtuosity, sharpness, and connection that leave the strongest mark of what lies at the heart of men.
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About Ezra LeBank

Ezra LeBank is the Head of Movement and Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts at California State University, Long Beach. He is recognized internationally as a specialist in biomechanics, partner acrobatics, contact improvisation and clown. He is the editor of the national periodical for the Association for Theatre Movement Educators ATME News. His book CLOWNS: In Conversation With Modern Masters is available from Routledge Publishing, UK.