The most dramatic dance of the evening, Wheeldon’s Curious Kingdom is a bizarre piece I can only describe as a retired French mime’s fever dream… but in the best way possible.
Reminiscent of the Red Room in the television show Twin Peaks, it does not create another world but rather the essence of one full of seemingly random plot devices.
Five dancers open the stage spaced about six feet apart (aren’t we all at the point where we can accurately measure six feet with our eyes?) in silhouette against a yellow-lit backdrop. Piano notes puncture the air and the dancers reciprocate with angular movements.
The entire piece weaves back and forth between solos, pas de deux, and minimal group work. Postlewaite shows adeptness of both acting and dancing in a solo where he repeatedly breaks the fourth wall with an inquiring gaze. It is here where we start to question what is really going on and especially when the camera moves overhead to expose a shimmering, reflective rectangle laid across the floor.
Wheeldon ventures into intriguing hand choreography, at times having a couple hold only each other’s fingertips or repeatedly flipping hands from palm forward to back of hand. His use of shapes is outstanding and he almost makes the dancers put them on display, flat to the audience as if to say, “see this”?
Set to music by the French artists Maurice Ravel, Erik Satie, and Edith Piaf he progresses from piano to the iconic reverberations of Piaf where we reach the height of our confusing dream.
Costumes by Hariett Jung and Reid Bartelme are exuberantly glamorous. Orange gloves, short and long, appear here and there; sometimes a pair is shared by two people. Dancers don shimmering silver unitards (that would look divine with a pair of red pumps) and change from mesh jumpsuits to flowy skirts to boleros and swimming caps from scene to scene.
Curious Kingdom is a trip worth taking but when you wake you will still not know quite what happened.