The new Elevator Series in the sixth-floor performance space at the Wyly Theatre allows plenty of space for the dancers to run in NICE, the fascinating new piece by Dallas choreographer Danielle Georgiou and her company, DGDG.
"It's nice to be nice," croons singer-pianist Paul Slavens, who composed the score for a show that takes all the old tropes about how ladies should behave -- back to 1920s etiquette maven Emily Post, whose insipid rules for debutantes are read and recited by the dancers -- and smashes them to bits. Know that YouTube video about the woman getting catcalled on New York streets for 10 hours? NICE is its succinct, artistic response.
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Georgiou's performers sing, speak lines (the script is by Justin Locklear) and interact with the audience (if you sit on the front rows, wear your dancing shoes). The choreography combines ballroom steps with muscular, high intensity moves that can find a male dancer wearing a tutu, a group of four women in 1920s flapper frocks or a quarter of men dressed in only their black undies. Huge rolls of white paper hanging from the ceiling form the scenery (designed by Lori Honeycutt, who also did the dramatic lighting design) but add another layer of audio effects, as dancers pull the sheets and tear and rustle them, creating sounds of waterfalls and the clashing of cymbals.
The performers -- Haylee Barganier, Colby Calhoun, Jana Duplechin, Sarah Dye, Curtis Green, Martin Godoy, Gabriel King, Tamara McCarty, Nancy Mendoza, Veena Naik and Joshua Nichols -- all exhibit triple-threat talent. These are dancers who aren't just going through the motions. In the sequences referencing abuse and sexual assault, their acting matches their well-trained physical expression.
NICE is at its best when its subject matter is about not playing nice.
NICE continues through November 23 at the Wyly Theatre, 2400 Flora St. Tickets $15, 214-880-0202.