The confederation of Los Angeles-based freestyle and hip-hop dancers known as the Groovaloos has been featured in recent ads for Gap and iPod, as well as a slew of musicvideos and the dance-oriented pic “You Got Served.” With a loosely structured book and staging by company members Bradley Rapier and Danny Cistone, this energetic 15-member ensemble display their poppin’, lockin’, head-spinnin’ and breakin’ skills through 28 numbers in 75 minutes. Integrating dance and narrative, the spoken-word components often are sabotaged by inconsistent sound reinforcement, but the dance elements are relentlessly creative and dynamic.
The loose-knit dramatic throughline follows journeyman dancer Shooz (Rapier) as he revels amid an eclectic group of folk who have traveled wildly diverse paths of discovery to find fruition in the soul-freeing, limb-jarring machinations of hip-hop (“The Perfectionist”).
“Groovaloo” utilizes the narrative device of “A Chorus Line” to infuse the proceedings with biographical insight.
The pre-recorded and onstage-miked narratives are generally relegated to the background, providing sketchy atmosphere rather than illumination. The often undervolumed snippets of information allude to memories of childhood ballet classes, early dance ambitions, school truancy, family abuse, street violence and the eventual realization that each of these dancers has found a revolutionary dance form and a family of like-minded peers.
The five female members of the group (Katie Orr, Teresa Espinosa, Alison Faulk, Keeley Kaukimoce, Jules Urich) offer much-needed contrast to the rounds of hip-hop as they recall the days of formal dance lessons (“So Good,” “Beautiful”). But these ladies are master street dancers, as they amply demonstrate in “Women Freestyle.”
Urich’s solo talent is displayed to great effect in the hauntingly introspective “Fear & Understanding,” and Kaukimoce’s considerable vocal abilities also are showcased (“Identity”).
Despite a plethora of small ensemble demonstrations, the large group numbers (“Lock It Up,” “Groove Night,” “The Circle,” “Finale”) are the most infectious, spiked with remarkable virtuosity from each member of the group. The only number that appears out of place is the emotion-jarring “Fist, Blade or Bullet,” a fierce meditation on the group’s reaction to one of its own getting shot.
Edited by Adam Rayner, the pre-recorded score features dazzling original jazz and rock fusion numbers by a wide range of contributors, including J. Digsdeep, Randy Bernal, Siamese Sisters, Todd Burns and Ryan & the Handroids.