Monica Bill Barnes & Company (USA)
Monica Bill Barnes & Company: Happy Hour
A dance show turned into an after-work office party. Come for the free drink, stay for the hope of a life-changing experience. Monica Bill Barnes and company insert dance into unusual contexts, moving as fluidly on the world’s largest stages as in an art museum or at the fictional after-work party of “Happy Hour.” Dressed in a pair of everyday men’s suits, two women crash an after-work office party playing instantly familiar guys. It’s a subversive move, leading audiences to question expectations of women on stage with a free drink in their hands and microwave popcorn flying through the air. They dance through the feeling of not measuring up in a macho society—and then work even harder to mask their uncertainty. Each fist-pump, back slap, and gesticulation points to a lingering vulnerability, but the discomfort is cut by the duo’s goofy humor and the exaggerated absurdity of it all.
The set of “Happy Hour” is indeed unusual, built from a mish-mash of cheap party-store decorations, while an emcee (played by Robbie Saenz de Viteri, the company’s creative producing director) offers passersby free Old Fashioneds and pretzel rods. After the audience has had ample time for mingling (and drinking), two men join the party. At least, they read as men, given their cocky swagger, dark suits, and the assumption that all eyes belong on them. They act out small vignettes in a wide array of dance styles—including jazz, tap, and ballet—while simultaneously taking nips from a pocket flask and making moves on women.
Choreographed by Monica Bill Barnes. Performed by Monica Bill Barnes, Elisa Clark and Robbie Saenz de Viteri.
“Like all good happy hours, this one has plentiful munchies and libations. And like the best ones, it offers abundant laughter.” —The New York Times