By John Lyle Belden
Gregory Glade Hancock excels at telling stories through dance, such as the unusual and fascinating case of “The Black Dahlia,” presented by Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre through Feb. 27.
Though many facts and theories have surfaced over the decades, the brutal 1947 murder of aspiring actress Elizabeth Short in Hollywood remains unsolved. Hancock presents, in routines set to the music of the era, four possible scenarios, each with its own suspect.
To make the story clear, aiding the Film Noir atmosphere, dancers speak to introduce each act. We initially meet the Dahlia herself, Hannah Brown as Short. Next, we hear from the suspects:
- the Sister (Abigail Lessaris), whose work with and against Brown (to the song “Sisters”) creates much of the humor;
- the Reporter (Adrian Dominguez), which also features Zoe Maish as a jilted and jealous girlfriend (“Blues in the Night”);
- the Showgirl (Olivia Payton), in a set pulsing with Latin rhythms; and
- the Doctor (Thomas Mason), introduced by Chloe Holzman, one of the nurses (with Camden Lancaster) paid “Pennies from Heaven” to look the other way and clean up the mess.
We also witness the graceful talents of Josie Moody, Zoe Hacker, Allie Hanning, Audrey Holloway, Audrey Springer, and Rebecca Zigmond.
The dancers participated in the creation of the show, with spoken words by Christine Thacker, and choreography and spot-on costuming by Hancock.
Who do you think committed the murder? As part of an ongoing capital campaign for improvements to the dance studio and performance space, audience members can vote for suspects with their dollars at boxes in the lobby.
This entertaining and easy to follow ballet noir has sold out all its initially scheduled dates through Feb. 27 at The Academy of GHDT, 329 Gradle Drive, Carmel. Contact GregoryHancockDanceTheatre.org or follow on Facebook for information and tickets for added performances.