On Friday, January 20, 2024 Dance at the Odyssey presented the evening-length jazz dance theater work titled Archetype choreographed by Lily Chumas, Sadie Guthrie, Nia Mason, Madi Ostratch, Olivia Vannucci, Robby Olmos, Iyana Monet, and Mekinna Knight. It was a piece about Good versus Evil, the taking over of control, and transformation. Archetype was set to songs by Sinead O’Connor and performed by friends of Chumas and students from the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) in Los Angeles. Dance at the Odyssey was curated by Barbara Mueller-Wittmann.
The work opened with an angel (Jane Zogbi – she/they) standing atop a pile of bodies and a woman/vampire (Gia Bella) dressed in bright red satin pajamas seated off to stage left. Very soon there was a loud noise and the angel falls; as in the Bible, Lucifer is cast out to Hell and the story begins to unfold with many twists and turns, orgy-like scenes, and unsettling parties.
The costumes for Archetype added to the confusion. Several appeared to have been designed to resemble those in The Rocky Horror Show while others seemed to have been thrown together from the dancers’ closets.
I can appreciate and admire Lily Chumas and the other choreographers for attempting to take on such a huge topic, and again, the dancers/performers were beautifully rehearsed, and the evening went on without an obvious hitch.
There was a gorgeous solo performed by Autumn Jones (they/them) who left me wanting to see more from them. Their dancing was not only extraordinary, but fearless. Kudos go out to Robby Olmos (he/him) that played the sometimes villain and the one to overcome. And the solo performed with professional sensuality by Olivia Vannucci was, in a word, hot!
There were several large group scenes with incredible unison dancing and each performer held on to their character throughout the evening.
While the dancing was truly wonderful, well rehearsed, and the show ran smoothly, there were, however, major issues: the main one being that it was difficult to follow the storyline. Several of the numerous (17) scenes tended to end before the relationships between the characters were fully developed; like stories cut off in the middle. Perhaps this was due to there being “too many cooks in the kitchen.” One tale told by eight choreographers.
Kudos to everyone for putting on a good show. The very large cast included: Abbey Raymond, Alex Sdrolias, Autumn Jones, Avery Potemri, Emma Vicana, Erika Soto, Gia Bella, Iyana Monet, Jess Wicke, Jane Zogbi, Madi Ostratch, Marisa Ervin, Mary Kate Chapman, May Lim, Mekinna, Nia Miah Mason, Olivia Vannucci, Reagan Brummett, Robby Olmos, Sadie Guthrie, Sam Perna, Sasha Serdyukov, and Tayley Shewmaker.
Brava to Lighting Designer Katelyn Braymer whose lighting was extraordinary. The Costume Designer was Lily Chumas, and the Set Designers were Lily Chumas and Darby Epperson. The dramaturge was Lily Chumas.
Dance at the Odyssey continues for the next four weekends with 3X3 created by Punto de Inflexión, Jan 26-28; Nomad created by Goblin Party, Feb. 2-4; how I became kinder, and kinder created by Azuki Umeda, Feb. 9-11; and The Un(Double) created by Galiana&Nikolchev’s The Useless Room, Feb. 16-18. Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM and Sundays at 2 PM.
For more information on Dance at the Odyssey and to purchase tickets, please visit their website.
Written by Jeff Slayton for LA Dance Chronicle.
Featured image: Opening scene from Archetype – Photo by Lexi Dysart.