The Thrill Of The Chase

Written by Susan Reiter on . Posted in Dance, Posts.


He’s young, he’s confident
and he’s already got an intriguing resume going back a decade. Chase Brock
moved to New York at 16 to perform on Broadway, and has been soaking up
experiences and making connections as he develops his choreographic voice ever
since. He veered away from Broadway into concert dance; after assisting such
choreographers as Kathleen Marshall and Ann Reinking, and choreographing a
variety of musical and opera productions, he founded a company in 2007. Naming
it The Chase Brock Experience is not exactly an act of timidity, and Brock
clearly has substantial goals and expectations.

He also has lots of
contacts from the musical theater world, and the scores for the two new works
on the program his company performs this week have notable pedigrees. Michael
John LaChiusa, whose complex, sophisticated musicals include The Wild Party and Hello Again, has composed a 26-minute piano score for Brock’s Mirror
Mirror
, a male trio. For his other
premiere, titled Whoa, Nellie,
Brock turned to Nellie McKay’s 2007 album Obligatory Villagers, which he found “very theatrical” and “a great vaudevillian
piece of writing.”

Brock already knew where he
was headed early on. Not many other North Carolina teenagers had a subscription
to Back Stage. His background
alternated between ballet and Broadway; he took ballet class six days a week,
performing in local Nutcracker and
Coppelia productions. But the
classes he took in his early teens through the Broadway Theatre Project,
directed by Ann Reinking, led him towards Broadway musicals. Living legends
like Gwen Verdon and Gregory Hines taught classes. “From that program, and the
chance to work with those kinds of choreographers and directors—I became very
serious and motivated to learn real choreography, great old Broadway
choreography,” Brock said last week.

Soon after he’d performed
in a community theater production of The Music Man, he saw an audition notice in Back Stage for Susan Stroman’s Broadway revival. “Naively, at
15, I thought, ‘I’m right for it, I’ll probably get it.’ I asked my parents to
pay for a plane ticket so I could audition, and they did—and I got the show.”
He performed in the ensemble (and understudied a featured dancing role) during
the two-year run. “It was an
amazing experience. I just loved the rehearsal process so much that when we
started doing the show, and Susan Stroman went away, I really missed that.
After a while, I realized I’m not that happy just performing. I really want to
be back in a creative process.

“On our day off, I would
rent studio space, take dancers from our show and others, and make a dance
every Monday. I did this for six months or more, and by doing that, I
re-discovered my identity. I had choreographed as a kid, and as a teenager. But
I had become so focused on becoming a professional dancer and moving to New
York,” he recalled. Rather than becoming a Broadway gypsy, he re-focused on
choreography. “I thought that I had more to say as a choreographer than as a
dancer.” Since founding his company, his focus has been single-minded. “I was
offered a West End show, but I turned it down, because I would have had to tale
six months away from my company, and I didn’t want to do that. This has become
my baby.

“My primary inspiration is
music. Every time I make a new dance, I try to work with a different kind of
music than I did the last time. I
genuinely love abstract or plotless, dances the most. I’m not really interested
in story or plot. But character interests me, and relationships between people
interest me. At this point, group dances are what I seem to be best at doing.
Actually, this LaChiusa piece was a challenge for me, because it’s almost
completely solos.”

Brock knew LaChiusa from
working as assistant director on his See What I Wanna See at the Public Theater. Mirror Mirror marks the first time he has composed for dance. “I
love the score [and] think it’s absolutely gorgeous,” Brock said. “I think it’s
psychological, sexy, complicated; it never goes where you think it’s going to
go. It’s constantly surprising—and I hope we’ll match that.” Outlining his
initial concept for the piece, he said, “I had an idea about a two-way mirror. Place that on stage, and deal
with what happens on either side of it. One person doesn’t know they’re being
watched, and the other person is observing. And I thought about loneliness and
missed connections.”

Brock ventured into new
territory this year, creating the choreography for the Wii game Dance on
Broadway
. “It was wonderful, because
I used all my company members as the animation references. The gig provided a
handy 16 additional weeks of employment. Clearly, Brock is still finding
interesting ways to straddle different worlds.

>>The Chase Brock Experience

July 8 through 11, Connelly
Theater, 220 E. 4th St. (betw. Aves. A & B), 212-868-4444;
$25.

The Thrill of the Chase

Written by David Blum on . Posted in Arts & Film, Posts.


By David Blum

IN THE SEASON opener of Entourage,Vin nie Chase finds himself in jail—a free-float ing party jail with joints by the fist-load, gorgeous girls at the ready and, as always, the loyal buddies who follow him everywhere— this time behind the figurative bars of Holly wood prison.This is the lockup where movie stars land when they can’t get arrested.

It’s a fun notion to see the former movie star at the center of Entourage searching for a job, any job—and it might have been even more entertaining if the producers had taken the idea to its craziest extreme, with Vinnie serving customers at the In-N-Out Burger.

Still, it’s almost enough to see his demotion to has-been actor driving around Los Angeles for meetings with disinterested executives who don’t even bother blowing smoke up his ass. He’s a burned-out box-office bum with a scraggly beard and no juice. Even his cell phone doesn’t get good reception anymore.

This season’s provocative, underlying theme is redemption, and whether its characters can find any in the hedonist hellhole they live in. Vinnie needs a way out of the career logjam created by Medellin, the art-house flop that used up his considerable Aquaman capital.The side stories that dominated last season—the emer gence of Turtle’s romantic life, the revival of Drama’s dormant career—recede to the back ground as this year’s episodes begin on Sunday.

Instead, the focus goes to Vinnie and his self made mess; the sole subplot comes from Eric’s desperation to galvanize the career of his only moneymaking client. It isn’t until the end of episode four that “E” even manages to make a dent in the high walls of the Hollywood chain link fence that keeps Vinnie out of sight.

As usual, the bimbos come and go at warp speed; but this time around,Vinnie has to ex pend a little pro-active energy to get the girl. Now, when the boys strut down Sunset Boulevard, the background extras aren’t in structed to do double takes at the passing movie star, because there isn’t one. Even Ari, the high-flying über-agent who handles Vin nie, finds himself defending his major-domo status by engaging rivals in daredevil car races—and losing. It’s a new low point for the boys of Entourage, which means a high point for the audience at last; we get to see them closer than ever to the glass we’ve been watching them through for the last four sea sons. Close up, their desperation drags them down so far that for once, we can feel our jeal ousies replaced by our sense of superiority.

Hey, even we knew Medellin was a bad idea! The focus on the foursome yields great re wards this time—especially as the producers probe the essence of male bonding and broth erhood.The relationship between Vinnie and Drama deepens as the two change places this season; by the end of episode four, it’s hard to know who’s more famous. I won’t be sur prised if the season’s plot arc includes the idea that Drama replaces Vinnie as the family’s most prominent star—shifting, in a funda mental and potentially riveting way, the dy namic that dictated the premise of the series.

I hope I’m right, but even if not, the sight of the brothers singing a drunken duet of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” had almost as much emotional resonance for me as in The Deer Hunter, when Christopher Walken and Robert De Niro belted out that same sad song. Coincidence? Don’t think so. Who knew, after four seasons of slogging through the ups and not-so-ups of this fabulist four, we’d finally have true down-and-out characters to root for? It’s about time Entourage kicked in with a storyline of failure and pain for us to care about. Four episodes in, I’m already hooked on the jagged edges of this poignant plot; it’s a big hole these produc ers have dug for Vinnie Chase and his pals, and nothing beats watching these guys climb ing their way out of this prison’s subterranean tunnels, a flashlight in Vinnie’s gleaming teeth as he leads the way with the common sense of a kid from Queens. After four years as a mixed bag of insight and ineptitude, Entourage finally has the potential to emerge as a true television classic—and just in time to spring HBO from another season in the slammer.

The Thrill of the Chase

Written by David Blum on . Posted in Arts & Film, Posts.


In the season opener of Entourage, Vinnie Chase finds himself in jail—a free-floating party jail with joints by the fist-load, gorgeous girls at the ready and, as always, the loyal buddies who follow him everywhere—this time behind the figurative bars of Hollywood prison. This is the lockup where movie stars land when they can’t get arrested.



It’s a fun notion to see the former movie star at the center of Entourage searching for a job, any job—and it might have been even more entertaining if the producers had taken the idea to its craziest extreme, with Vinnie serving customers at the In-N-Out Burger. Still, it’s almost enough to see his demotion to has-been actor driving around Los Angeles for meetings with disinterested executives who don’t even bother blowing smoke up his ass. He’s a burned-out box-office bum with a scraggly beard and no juice. Even his cell phone doesn’t get good reception anymore.



This season’s provocative, underlying theme is redemption, and whether its characters can find any in the hedonist hellhole they live in. Vinnie needs a way out of the career logjam created by Medellin, the art-house flop that used up his considerable Aquaman capital. The side stories that dominated last season—the emergence of Turtle’s romantic life, the revival of Drama’s dormant career—recede to the background as this year’s episodes begin on Sunday. Instead, the focus goes to Vinnie and his self-made mess; the sole subplot comes from Eric’s desperation to galvanize the career of his only moneymaking client. It isn’t until the end of episode four that “E” even manages to make a dent in the high walls of the Hollywood chain-link fence that keeps Vinnie out of sight.



As usual, the bimbos come and go at warp speed; but this time around, Vinnie has to expend a little pro-active energy to get the girl. Now, when the boys strut down Sunset Boulevard, the background extras aren’t instructed to do double takes at the passing movie star, because there isn’t one. Even Ari, the high-flying über-agent who handles Vinnie, finds himself defending his major-domo status by engaging rivals in daredevil car races—and losing. It’s a new low point for the boys of Entourage, which means a high point for the audience at last; we get to see them closer than ever to the glass we’ve been watching them through for the last four seasons. Close up, their desperation drags them down so far that for once, we can feel our jealousies replaced by our sense of superiority. Hey, even we knew Medellin was a bad idea!



The focus on the foursome yields great rewards this time—especially as the producers probe the essence of male bonding and brotherhood. The relationship between Vinnie and Drama deepens as the two change places this season; by the end of episode four, it’s hard to know who’s more famous. I won’t be surprised if the season’s plot arc includes the idea that Drama replaces Vinnie as the family’s most prominent star—shifting, in a fundamental and potentially riveting way, the dynamic that dictated the premise of the series. I hope I’m right, but even if not, the sight of the brothers singing a drunken duet of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” had almost as much emotional resonance for me as in The Deer Hunter, when Christopher Walken and Robert De Niro belted out that same sad song. Coincidence? Don’t think so.



Who knew, after four seasons of slogging through the ups and not-so-ups of this fabulist four, we’d finally have true down-and-out characters to root for? It’s about time Entourage kicked in with a storyline of failure and pain for us to care about. Four episodes in, I’m already hooked on the jagged edges of this poignant plot; it’s a big hole these producers have dug for Vinnie Chase and his pals, and nothing beats watching these guys climbing their way out of this prison’s subterranean tunnels, a flashlight in Vinnie’s gleaming teeth as he leads the way with the common sense of a kid from Queens. After four years as a mixed bag of insight and ineptitude, Entourage finally has the potential to emerge as a true television classic—and just in time to spring HBO from another season in the slammer.   

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