“Jack of all trades, master of none.” This saying accurately epitomizes the new French dance show, unoriginally entitled “Show Dance,” which made its way to Cairo this week.
Offering up a plethora of subpar dance numbers spanning a wide spectrum of styles, including Latin, rock ‘n’ roll, swing, flamenco, and boogie to name a few, “Show Dance” packs in one act after another, leaving audiences feeling overstuffed, yet unsatisfied.
In a seemingly never-ending collection of a whopping 26 numbers, “Show Dance” opened at Cairo’s Opera House on Jan. 3. While it promised to take audiences on a “magical trip into the heart of intense emotions,’ in reality, audiences were taken on a tedious two-hour tour of dated, second-rate song and dance numbers.
“Show Dance” opened in 2008, initially touring around France. Nearly three years later, it looks tired and worn out. The uninspiring show unfortunately continues to be peddled around France, and to international vendors.
The spectacle was choreographed by French husband and wife team Marc Barbieri and Agnés Morin. Together, Barbieri and Morin, who once represented France in international dance competitions, concluded their professional dancing career back in 2003, transitioning out of the spotlight and behind the scenes.
Despite Barbieri and Morin’s extensive histories as dancers, their experience fails to translate into success as choreographers; “Show Dance” lacks focus and depth, and plays out like a random compilation of songs on a mix tape.
Though “Show Dance” strives to convey passion, longing, and intense emotion, the overall sentiment is forced and unconvincing. The dance sequences are riddled with suggestive dance moves, which strike one as lewd rather than passionate. On three separate occasions, the male lead quite literally ripped the clothes off his female counterpart, revealing a skimpier, sexier costume underneath. This tired stunt was blunt, shallow and cheapened the already lackluster performance.
Four couples constituted the dance troupe. The style of most dances was Latin or Latin-fusion. While individually the dancers certainly had skill, they performed poorly as a team, often out of sequence with one another. Latin dance is about fierce competition, overt flashiness, and exhibitionism. All four couples have participated multiple times in international competitions, and it shows, though not in a positive way. Dancing alongside each other in formation goes against the very spirit of Latin dance, and it was clear in some numbers as more talented dancers took the opportunity for personal revel, upstaging their peers, giving the performance an amateurish effect.
The selection of music was an unimpressive compilation of timeworn songs from the 1980s and 1990s, featuring multiple songs by Michael Jackson and Celine Dion, including “Smooth Criminal” and “Coming Back to Me.” Ho hum hits from the Pointer Sisters, and Tom Jones, were featured along with predictable Latin tunes. The music selection was not only uninspiring; it also played at medium volume throughout the show, allowing the resounding thud of the dancers’ feet to be heard awkwardly above it.
The tastelessness of the whole charade was underscored by the dance sequence entitled “Matrix,| after the 1999 sci-fi blockbuster of the same name. Two male dancers dressed in long overcoats and dark sunglasses depicted the characters Neo and Morpheus, while a woman clad in a tight leather bustier and hip hugging pants impersonated the Trinity. Neon green lights flashed as the performers danced on in Latin-fusion style to the synthesized, trance-like theme song of the movie. The entire scenario was somewhat surreal and begged the question: Why pair a sci-fi theme with Latin dance? By the end of the song, the audience was still left wondering.
Special effects that would have seemed ‘special’ 20 years ago featured flashing neon green lights for the Matrix number, a smoke machine that puffed bursts of white vapor onstage at random intervals, and poor quality video projected on an enormous screen, showing cliché images of twinkling stars and blazing fires.
On the whole, “Show Dance” feels like cheap, low-budget entertainment, but it actually isn’t. At LE 75, 150, and 200 per ticket, you may want to save your money for something a little more worthwhile.
Oh the other hand, if you enjoy tacky choreography, dated music and dancers hamming it up to the best of their ability, “Show Dance” will give you just what you’re looking for.
“Show Dance” occupies the Main Hall of Cairo’s Opera House with nightly shows until Jan. 9.