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Jam on the Groove

UCLA Center for the Performing Arts and Mitchell Maxwell, Alan J. Schuster and Margaret Selby, in association with IMG, present a dance revue in one act, written, composed, directed and choreographed by GhettOriginal Prods. Co-producers are Michael Skipper and Victoria Maxwell; associate producers are Susan Selby and James L. Simon. Scenic design, Andrew Jackness; mural designs, Erni Vales; lighting design, Peter Kraczorowski; sound design, Bruce Elliman. Opened September 24, reviewed September 26; runs until October 5. Running time: one hour, 20 minutes. Dancers: Leon "Mister Twister" Chesney, Steve "Mr. Wiggles" Clemente, "Flow Master," Kenny "Ken Swift" Gabbert, Akani Humphrey, D.J. Shakey Shake, Antoine "Doc" Judkins, Risa Kobatake, Adesola "D'Incredible" Osakalumi, Jorge "Fabel" Pabon, LaRhonda Ragland, Roger "Orko" Romero, Ereina "Honey Roc Well" Valencia. There is an inherent irreverence and anarchy built into the street corner dance known as hip-hop that usually defies choreographic confinement. It is an improvisational art form for individual virtuosos, not chorus lines. It is to the credit of the dancers of GhettOriginal Prods. that the Off Broadway revue, "Jam on the Groove," actually organizes the limitless energy and skill of this 13-member ensemble into exciting, creatively programmed ensemble numbers, while not sacrificing their individual dance personalities. With the ever-present platter-spinning DJ (Shakey Shake) setting the proper mood for the evening with his percussion like manipulation of two turntables, dancer Steve "Mr. Wiggles" Clemente alerts the audience that despite its bad reputation , hip-hop is everybody's dance. He proclaims, "We want to destroy all the negative myths about hip-hop culture today." The dancers then launch into an intriguing spoof of the street life of the underprivileged in the percussion-laden "Concrete Jungle." Reflecting the African-American/Latino/Asian-American cultural mix of the dancers, the original music interweaves all these ethnic rhythms into a powerful current of sound, both supporting and driving the dancers. This is particularly true in three production numbers: an amusing spoof of film noir gangster films, "Who's Got the Mac" a comical but creatively staged tribute to the martial arts films of Jackie Chan, "Shaolin Temple;" and the hard-driving showcase, "Hip-hop Yo Don't Stop." Through all these group numbers, the craft of the hip-hop soloist shines through in every dancer: the ability to incorporate expert mime and contortionist skills , rhythmic variation and balance control that would do credit to an Olympic gymnast. They can also flat-out dance, as exhibited in a rap/salsa extravaganza, "Spanish Harlem." The real highlights of the evening, though, are the numbers that spotlight the skills of individual dancers. One such number, "Janitor," features the amazing head-spinning talents of Los Angeles native Roger "Orko" Romero. The duet, "Shadow," displays talents of Kenny "Ken Swift" Gabbert and the uniquely named "Flow Master." The duet, "Puppet," could have been taken right out of the ballet "Petroushka" as a single-minded marionette ("Mr. Wiggles" Clemente) attempts to free himself from his puppet master (Jorje "Fabel" Pabon) by cutting his strings and rising effortlessly, supported by an imaginary balloon. Clemente's mime skills would do credit to Marcel Marceau. Hovering over the dancers throughout the evening are the exotically crafted graffiti murals of Erni Vales, always reminding the audience that these dancers and their art were born out of the need to find a creative outlet within the concrete jungles of the inner city. Supporting everyone's efforts are the dynamic but still unobtrusive scenic and lighting designs of Andrew Jackness and Peter Kaczorowski, respectively, as well as the pulsating but not ear-splitting sound design of Bruce Ellison.

UCLA Center for the Performing Arts and Mitchell Maxwell, Alan J. Schuster and Margaret Selby, in association with IMG, present a dance revue in one act, written, composed, directed and choreographed by GhettOriginal Prods. Co-producers are Michael Skipper and Victoria Maxwell; associate producers are Susan Selby and James L. Simon. Scenic design, Andrew Jackness; mural designs, Erni Vales; lighting design, Peter Kraczorowski; sound design, Bruce Elliman. Opened September 24, reviewed September 26; runs until October 5. Running time: one hour, 20 minutes. Dancers: Leon “Mister Twister” Chesney, Steve “Mr. Wiggles” Clemente, “Flow Master,” Kenny “Ken Swift” Gabbert, Akani Humphrey, D.J. Shakey Shake, Antoine “Doc” Judkins, Risa Kobatake, Adesola “D’Incredible” Osakalumi, Jorge “Fabel” Pabon, LaRhonda Ragland, Roger “Orko” Romero, Ereina “Honey Roc Well” Valencia. There is an inherent irreverence and anarchy built into the street corner dance known as hip-hop that usually defies choreographic confinement. It is an improvisational art form for individual virtuosos, not chorus lines. It is to the credit of the dancers of GhettOriginal Prods. that the Off Broadway revue, “Jam on the Groove,” actually organizes the limitless energy and skill of this 13-member ensemble into exciting, creatively programmed ensemble numbers, while not sacrificing their individual dance personalities. With the ever-present platter-spinning DJ (Shakey Shake) setting the proper mood for the evening with his percussion like manipulation of two turntables, dancer Steve “Mr. Wiggles” Clemente alerts the audience that despite its bad reputation , hip-hop is everybody’s dance. He proclaims, “We want to destroy all the negative myths about hip-hop culture today.” The dancers then launch into an intriguing spoof of the street life of the underprivileged in the percussion-laden “Concrete Jungle.” Reflecting the African-American/Latino/Asian-American cultural mix of the dancers, the original music interweaves all these ethnic rhythms into a powerful current of sound, both supporting and driving the dancers. This is particularly true in three production numbers: an amusing spoof of film noir gangster films, “Who’s Got the Mac” a comical but creatively staged tribute to the martial arts films of Jackie Chan, “Shaolin Temple;” and the hard-driving showcase, “Hip-hop Yo Don’t Stop.” Through all these group numbers, the craft of the hip-hop soloist shines through in every dancer: the ability to incorporate expert mime and contortionist skills , rhythmic variation and balance control that would do credit to an Olympic gymnast. They can also flat-out dance, as exhibited in a rap/salsa extravaganza, “Spanish Harlem.” The real highlights of the evening, though, are the numbers that spotlight the skills of individual dancers. One such number, “Janitor,” features the amazing head-spinning talents of Los Angeles native Roger “Orko” Romero. The duet, “Shadow,” displays talents of Kenny “Ken Swift” Gabbert and the uniquely named “Flow Master.” The duet, “Puppet,” could have been taken right out of the ballet “Petroushka” as a single-minded marionette (“Mr. Wiggles” Clemente) attempts to free himself from his puppet master (Jorje “Fabel” Pabon) by cutting his strings and rising effortlessly, supported by an imaginary balloon. Clemente’s mime skills would do credit to Marcel Marceau. Hovering over the dancers throughout the evening are the exotically crafted graffiti murals of Erni Vales, always reminding the audience that these dancers and their art were born out of the need to find a creative outlet within the concrete jungles of the inner city. Supporting everyone’s efforts are the dynamic but still unobtrusive scenic and lighting designs of Andrew Jackness and Peter Kaczorowski, respectively, as well as the pulsating but not ear-splitting sound design of Bruce Ellison.

Jam on the Groove

(Wadsworth Theatre, Brentwood: 1,317 seats; $ 30 top)

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