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DANCECleveland, a Knight Arts grantee, is taking a collaborative leap next week and will make another step in its ongoing effort to bring the finest in contemporary dance troupes to the area. The noted dance presenter will be working with the Cleveland Play House for the first time ever as part of the latter organization’s New Ground Theater Festival.

I think it’s cool that the idea of dance-theater has been entered into the mix.

Not only are these two organizations working together, but the production that DANCECleveland is presenting – “The Better Half” – is in conception a shared work. The artistic director of the dance group Lucky Plush, Julia Rhoads, worked with Leslie Buxbaum Danzig of 500 Clown, a Chicago troupe specializing in what has been described as “riotous deconstructions of serious classics,” like “MacBeth” and “Frankenstein,” to create this theatrical piece.

Lucky Plush, "The Better Half." Photo by William Frederking

Lucky Plush, “The Better Half.” Photo by William Frederking

Members of both companies will be featured in the evening-length dance performance.

“The Better Half” is a spin off of the film noir classic “Gaslight,” in which legendary actress Ingrid Bergman plays a woman slowly driven mad by her conniving husband, played by French actor Charles Boyer. Essentially the husband hides things from her and blames her for taking them, dims the lights while making her believe she is hallucinating, and keeps her away from other people so that the isolation wears on her.

Lucky Plush, "The Better Half." Photo by William Federking

Lucky Plush, “The Better Half.” Photo by William Federking

Sounds like the stuff of fun to me.

In Lucky Plush’s hands, the focus is reportedly on a “playful look at contemporary relations” while revealing the interactions through a combination of dance and theater to develop “a work that is emotionally rich, funny and full of revealing surprises.”

Reviews of the work have described it as incorporating other movie snippets, like from “The Bourne Identity,” also recognizable to most in the audience and done in fun. Presumably, too, the dancers get cast in parts for the work and do funny turns on not liking the roles they are assigned.

Lucky Plush, "The Better Half." Photo by William Federking

Lucky Plush, “The Better Half.” Photo by William Federking

Since being founded by Rhoads in 1999, Lucky Plush has premiered more than 30 original works including performance installations, two dance films and 10 evening-length productions.

Chicago-based Lucky Plush Productions will perform “The Better Half” for DANCECleveland and Cleveland Play House at 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 2 – Saturday, May 4 in PlayhouseSquare’s Allen Theatre, 1407 Euclid Ave., Akron; 216-241-6000; www.playhousesquare.org. Tickets are $20-$45.

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