I took my daughter Tigana to see Alberta Dance Theater / Children in Dance Association’s production of Lost in Space yesterday. It was.... strange.
I mean, Lost in Space didn’t make a lot of sense when it was a TV series (my teenage friends and I used to watch the original series to play ‘rationalize the science’, the object of which was to plausibly explain away whatever scientific illiteracy was currently on display, e.g., the scene in the opening episode in which the caste cry out, “Oh gosh, we’re burning up from the heat of that comet!”), and when that campy weirdness gets translated into interpretive dance 30 years later, well, it raises the bar on oddness for the SF genre a whole ‘nother notch.
But I have to say that I really enjoyed the performance. Campy nostalgia aside, it was artistically successful theming of dance routines, and gave an awfully large caste of kids a great variety of material through which to strut their stuff.
The performance opens with the spaceship (portrayed by the family Robinson dancers squatting mid-stage) going through a meteor storm (portrayed by dozens of dancers swirling past in black leotards). It actually kind of works! Subsequent dances provide interpretations of inside a black hole, lost in time, encounters with hostile aliens, robots to the rescue, space walks, mysterious comet (much more interesting than anything from original series!), dance of the galaxies, nebula, plant life, space junk, and astropolis, among several others. It was all pretty impressive! And I say that as someone who doesn’t even have a kid up there on stage.
Dancing performances ranged from ‘solid’ to ‘ready for professional’, and I kept thinking that someone knew what they were doing training these kids. Nice choreography executed well by a large cast. The occasional miscue came from the theatre’s lighting / video technician, not the dancers, and may be excused on the grounds that I was attending the first performance.
The acid test has to be Tigana’s reaction, and it must be said that the dancing held Tigana’s attention throughout, which is saying a lot for a 90-minute dance performance given my daughter’s usual attention span.
Review by Robert Runté.
(Originally Published in Neo-opsis # 8).