And the Beat goes on. The poetry in Ron Allen’s choreo-poem about the ultimate short circuit in the city’s grid (violence, erotic provocation, spiritual ennui and poetry) is electrically charged and often more declarative than evocative (“Skin is a coffin … Chance is the road to Nirvana … Ten-cent orgasms of telemarketing heroes”). The experience feels assailed by a street-corner poet, whose words are enacted by an ensemble of 12, a feeling that’s as invigorating and discomfiting as standing in the cold breeze of an alleyway. Jemal McNeil’s sharp direction and Drew D’Andrea’s sassy choreography expand the words into relationships and movement that’s both ritualized and saucy — largely played out around a stage-center shrine that embodies the city’s detritus. The performances, by dancers Brixey Blankenship, Victoria Brown, Aaron Davis and Kalen Salima and actors Justin Alston, Phillip C. Curry, David Ibrahim, Jo D. Jonz, Lynn Odell, Marja-Lewis Ryan and Wendi West, are first-rate. Nonetheless, it’s hard work to keep fathoming lines such as “Take the air from the lip of heavy want/Take this raw weight on my tongue/This sweet tobacco of indulgence …,” only to watch the ensemble gunned down by rifle fire. This poem’s despondency is more assumed than earned — assumed from the brutal experience of the streets and the love of language — yet 90 minutes of assumption, in place of debate, becomes more blistering than inviting, despite the oozing sensuality of the music and dance.
Wednesdays, Thursdays, 8 p.m. Starts: Feb. 27. Continues through March 27, 2008

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