The Rapture, with Under the Influence of Giants

dance In a way, the crowd that shoved its way to the front of the stage for The Rapture’s first visit to Charlottesville was like a Russian Imperial ballet company. Not because the 20somethings that squeezed in to shake it to the post-punk disco rompers were dressed in toe shoes or turning 32 fouettés to hits like “Get Myself Into It.” Instead, it was the audience’s remarkable uniformity of costume, physique and choreography that had me looking at them that way. After many years spent reviewing dance performances, I recognize the hallmarks of a classical troupe when I see them, even if there’s no Odette or Siegfried on view.

Among the warmly predictable elements at this ballet: a gradual crescendo of intensity and plot as conveyed through the (admittedly limited) choreography. The strictures of a rock concert being what they are, these were Dances for Narrow Spaces, and not Prosceniums (the one exception being multi-instrumentalist Gabriel Andruzzi, who deserves special recognition for his Nureyev-like gyrations in tight pants). Back on the dance floor, little was executed “full out,” as dance critics like to say when they talk shop. It was all about joy on the vertical plane—progressing from head bobs to full torso shimmies, while feet remained firmly planted lest one stomp somebody’s toes or coat or ill-placed beer cup.

Of course, there’s always one chorine who draws attention to her extra efforts—by the second number, “Heaven,” the lanky girl with the blow-out who was, let’s face it, overdressed in kitten heels and a black shift, had left the head nodding of the rest of the company behind. She’d be one of the first later in the evening to swim her limbs and rib cage up and down the chest of another (presumably her date, but who knows?).

Like many a time-tested dance show, the performers (in this case the audience) were both uniquely themselves, pulsing the floor on this certain chilly night in a way they wouldn’t quite repeat again, and exactly what you knew you’d see, because you’d seen it so many times before. No surprises, in other words, except perhaps the surprise of finding that by the end of the too-short set the frenzy and rhythm of the middle of the pack had radiated to the outer edges. Even those posing like statuary at the perimeter had finally started to move around—not something you usually see on the classical stage.

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