Scorpius Dance Theatre's Catwalk Turns Up the Heat (and the Humor)

Scorpius Dance Theatre proves that "strange" can be fun.
Scorpius Dance Theatre proves that "strange" can be fun.
Nancy Miller


Last year, Lisa Starry's original fashion-meets-dance work, Catwalk, pranced into Phoenix Theatre's Little Theatre with a splash.
The production featured fun, upbeat numbers set to familiar pop rock and classical tunes, with the dancers modeling clothing created by local designers. The idea was attractive enough to audiences that Starry was asked to remount the show this year.


It wasn't something the artistic director and choreographer had planned. But since the troupe is currently trying to raise funds for a European performance of Starry's popular A Vampire Tale, it was hard to nix the idea of remounting an already successful production.

Catwalk Redux capitalized on two things that made the original worth watching -- humor and sex appeal -- and kicked them up a notch. The dude-on-dude action in "Uprising" continued to make us sweat, while a slow, sensual new number called "Verging" featured an elegant, pas de deux style pairing of two men who undulated and twined in the same manner as their male/female counterparts. A whimsical circus-inspired finale conjured images of the bohemian performers found in Portland's Alberta district. 

Men in Spandex, a sassy striptease, and more after the jump...

"Verging" verges on the sensual.
"Verging" verges on the sensual.
Nancy Miller

Even more intense was "Chauffeur," which featured some of the troupe's female members sliding against each other and stripping down to a lacy black bra set and six-inch heels. It was a standout this year, though the colorful strobe lights were headache-producing after a few minutes. The effects were visually jarring enough that several audience members had to close their eyes and miss the best part of the act.

Sucks for them.

Luckily, that wasn't true for the humorous interludes that played between acts. Nicole Olson was a riot as a tall, slender model struggling to shimmy down the faux runway in a too-tight dress, and Rufus "Rufio" Rodriquez nearly stole the show as a wannabe Vicki's Secret model in a bikini and feathery angel wings.

The girls show off designs by Trish Martin.
The girls show off designs by Trish Martin.
Ed Flores

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The real scene-stealer was the new "Put a Ring On it" number set to Beyonce's "Single Ladies," in which all of the men paraded around in black leotards shaking their booties and showing off their finger-bling. Seeing bald, burly troupe co-founder David Starry put his hand on another dancer's head and jiggle his butt cheeks for the audience was worth the ticket price alone.    

The substitution of numbers such as "Verging" and "Put a Ring on It" for last year's lovely but too-long and out of place Bolero really made the show pop. And if the standing ovation at Saturday night's show is any indication, Scorpius can expect enough sold-out shows to help finance that trip to England.

Catwalk by Scorpius Dance Theatre continues through  May 21 at Phoenix Theatre, 100 E. McDowell Rd. in Phoenix. Visit www.scorpiusdance.com for info and tickets 


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