Pros: Highly entertaining and amusing. The dancers are fully committed to their roles and the choreography.
Cons: The staging is very basic, and there are a few random artistic elements.
Say you’re in a strip club, and you pay for a lap dance. You sit down on a chair and in walks a bearded man in a paisley shirt, matching blue y-fronts and sneakers. He starts trying to seduce you with his body: bending one knee, while straightening the other, and then slowly switching to emphasise the shape of his butt. Or spreading his legs wide and leaning forward, letting you look, but never touch. Instead of whispering dirty thoughts in your ear, he grabs a microphone and starts telling you about his grandparents. And when you think it couldn’t get any less sexy, in walks a woman in traditional Ukrainian dress singing a folk tune.
In Why Fronts: A Contemporary Lap Dance, Holasz, the director and choreographer has turned everything you would expect from a lap dance upside down. There’s no dimly lit room. Instead a bright yellow colour fills the stage. A man playing the Bodhran has replaced that sexy music with a devilish swag. And in case you haven’t guessed, the roles have been reversed: scantily clad female dancers are now two hairy-legged men. However, when it comes to their y-fronts, they are exactly what you’d expect: kind of saggy and little too high on the waist.
This show is designed to entertain. Members of the audience, labeled with a ‘chosen’ sticker, sit around the stage trying to contain their embarrassment as dancers Charlie Ford and Georges Hann tempt them with their erotic moves.
What makes it even more amusing is that Ford and Hann are taking their performance so seriously, never breaking character. Every time they wink at the audience, or hold their hands like two pistols and shoot from their crotches, or make orgasmic sound effects, they have this enticing look in their eyes. They are fully committed to providing their clients pleasure, even if the clients didn’t ask for it, or pay for it.
Despite the strong comedic element running through this show, Why Fronts also manages to raise a lot of interesting questions. Conceptually the choreography is very sophisticated, and allows for comparisons to be made between genders; how men and women can be represented so differently when doing the same thing. If it were two women on all fours pretending to crawl like kittens, performing a bare foot flamenco, riding each other like ponies, massaging the shoulders of a client, placing one foot on a client’s lap to give them a full view, it would not have been received by the audience in the same way as watching two men perform these provocative moves. Much of the sexuality and the power play between dancer and client are lost, and it becomes far more comedic.
The music is also very effective, albeit completely out of context. Tad Sargent, who plays the Bodhran helps alternate the tempo. Like all good lap dances there is a good balance between slower movements, to accentuate the shape of the body and fast gyrating movements to get the heart racing. And finally there are the powerful vocals from Polina Proutskova, who enters in her traditional Ukrainian dress to serenade the audience with a folk tune. I still don’t know how this element fits into the show, but I admire Holasz for her bold musical choices.
There is a lot to swallow in this 20-minute dance, so at the end, there is a nice celebratory toast to wash it all down.
Director and Choreographer: Holasz
Resolution! 2014 Booking Until: 15th February 2014
Why Fronts Booking Until: finished at The Place, extra performance at the Etcetera Theatre on 7th March 2014.
Box Office: 020 7121 1100 (The Place) or 020 7482 485 (Etcetera Theatre)
Booking Link: http://www.theplace.org.uk or http://www.etceteratheatre.com