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Review: Dance Kaleidoscope's 'Elvis Project'

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4.5 stars

Elvis was here. Not as a tribute to, or as an artist-impersonator, but as a timeless, charismatic personality whose sense of humor, humility and kindness endure in his music. Dance Kaleidoscope's two-part program visually, viscerally interpreted 20 songs by Presley that remain intergenerational because falling in love, making amends for behaving badly toward the one we love, and adjusting to lost love are part of our lives at every stage and age.

The stand-out of the evening was David Hochoy's setting "Love Me Tender" on the Vietnam War service and death of two friends. Based on a tune adapted from a familiar Civil War ballad, "Aura Lee" (or "Aura Lea"), the simplicity of lyrics, "Love me tender, love me sweet, never let me go. You have made my life complete, and I love you so," against the depth of loss is seared in memory for this audience member. Danced in military settings by Brandon Comer and Zach Young, with company members burying and mourning, this vignette serves as a personal wake-up to the Iraq War bankrupting us on all levels. Elvis recorded "Love Me Tender" in 1957, a year before being inducted into the Army and serving from 1958 to 1964.

The wonderment of this show was in the diverse choreographic interpretations by Hochoy and Cynthia Pratt. Hochoy's choreography brought dancers into imagery of sand sculptures emerging and disappearing and reappearing in different shapes. Pratt's choreography put dancers into hot, slinky, Las Vegas bright lights, bright sun erotic moves.Both suites fulfilled the dictum to "dance, dance, dance" and both interwove falling in love with making up: "Don't Be Cruel," "Patch it Up" and "Always on My Mind." Both depicted young and tender vs. old and wise. Both caught the Elvis whimsy: Hochoy's flirty "His Latest Flame," Pratt's smart "Trouble" deliciously ending with a human motorcycle. And both showed diverse attitudes, as Hochoy's "Teddy Bear" Jamie Ripsky and Brandon Comer romp through a teen scene in Hochoy's "Teddy Bear," and Pratt's "Steamroller Blues" features Brandon Comer, Kenoth Shane Patton, George Salina and Zach Young delivering a virtuoso jaded-macho outlook.

The Elvis Project ran Jan. 6-9 and deserves repeat performances.

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