Like Valentine's Day, dance performances can sometimes be painful. Break a Heart, playing this weekend at On the Boards, is not.
Billed as an antidote to V-day woes, this group show of Seattle dance regulars (9 choreographers and more than 25 dancers and musicians) is a big dance party put on by a big group of friends. The white balloon backdrop on stage and the red balloon-heart decorations (and pomegranate champagne cocktails) in the lobby give the evening an earnest and surprisingly endearing prom-night feel.
Group shows can be uneven, but the eight quick pieces in Break a Heart work—playfully weaving between the weird corners of romantic conventions and funny amorous pathos: Wade Madsen's clown in jammies pulls bobble-head dolls, hula dancers, and other souvenirs from a suitcase while Kristina Dillard's Ruth St. Denis-style nymphs—who look like they walked out of a Vassar pageant from 1914—dance around a bride-to-be who's singing lyrics to her attendant mom like "That's when I fall in love with you."
MouseBones sets the tone for the second half with the awesomely costumed "give it got it"— ompelling choreography and cool physicality—and they do it wearing giant furry hearts and tube socks. It's a nice contrast to Crispin Spaeth's low-key "for," a quietly sexy pas de deux series with six dancers continually switching partners.
Diana Cardiff, of the infamous Buttrock Suites, yanks the show back to comedy with her karaoke version of Nazareth's "Love Hurts." (It involves bunnies; that's all I'll say about it.)
I kept waiting for something steamy, or at least bawdy. But with the exception of brief nudity and some violence against stuffed animals, it's all pretty tame. Skirting around violence and heartbreak, this show is more about having fun—which I did. It's a crush not a torrid affair.
Break a Heart plays at On the Boards, 100 West Roy Street on Lower Queen Anne through Sunday, February 14. $18. All shows are at 8 p.m.