As Salvador Dalí’s dreamscape takes over the Kids-N-Co theater, children ranging from ages six to 16 will portray the artist, his wife and muse Gala, Charlie Chaplin and other iconic performers from the 1920s.
Directed by modern dancer and choreographer Mindy Chanson, this is part of her vision for “Stone Face/Steel Efface,”showing Feb. 27-March 1.
An experimental dance show, “Stone Face/Steel Efface” is set in an antique shop inherited by its eccentric and lonely shopkeeper who is presented with a mysterious trunk. For every artifact he pulls out, a historic figure emerges. A paintbrush becomes Dalí, a porkpie hat becomes Buster Keaton and a broken doll becomes Clarice Mayne.
With the exception of a few musical numbers written by Chanson, the show mimics classic silent films as each character portrayal is emphasized through body movement.
Acknowledging Chanson’s passion for the avant-garde, Stella Maria Perry, who directed two Kids-No-Co productions including “The Polaroid Express” and most recently, “The Little Prince,” introduced Chanson to the company and recommended that she direct a show at the theater.
Kids-N-Co board president Stella Gutierrez said the dance show is the first of its kind at the 26-year-old non-profit children’s community theater.
“We’re really happy that she was introduced to us because she’s brought in a new dimension for our program,” Gutierrez said. “They’re learning a lot about dance from her, and I think the best thing about it is they’re picking up the passion she has for dance and are being able to express that on the stage.”
When Chanson considered the possibilities of the original work she could come up with, she turned to her life-long interest of all things 1920s, which was fueled by her love for antiques and a collection of Buster Keaton movies that that were given to her as a child.
“My parents used to take me to the shops on Doniphan as a kid and that really sparked my interest,” Chanson said. “I would just get around the old stuff, and the musty smell and looking at old photographs of strangers would give me this feeling that I couldn’t get from anything else, and that led me to start looking into old films.”
As for the show’s title, Chanson said “Stone Face” is a nickname Keaton went by due to the stoic disposition he maintained despite the chaos that took place around him, while “Steel Efface” reflects the industrialization of the 1920s.
Other than legendary performers, Chanson also decided to include political figures such as suffragettes and Adelitas, the female soldiers of the Mexican Revolution.
Chanson also allowed the young actors to give their creative input, such as the tap dancing that Chiara Chanoi and her twin sister Caitlin helped choreograph for their portrayal of The Dolly Sisters.
“I’ve been dancing for six years and I’m a little advanced in tap,” Chiara Chanoi said. “The music is really nice and works with most tap rhythms, so mostly we found steps we liked and tried to find noises that fit.”
Her sister, who also has a dancing background, said she enjoyed the challenges brought on by the show.
“Dancing is a beautiful form of art. It’s hard and gives me something to work towards,” Caitlin Chanoi said. “This show gave me an excuse to look up all the characters in it and find out what they were like, and that was a lot of fun.”
With only a few more days left until its premiere, Chanson said she feels as if the show is taking on a life of its own.
“I wrote it, but I feel like there’s been something helping me, guiding me along the way because there’s been something very magical about the space and the kids’ willingness to be there,” Chanson said. “I’m very grateful, because without them, it wouldn’t be as amazing as it’s turning out to be.”
“Stone Face/Steel Efface”
Kids-N-Co, 1301 Texas Ave.
Friday and Saturday, Feb. 27-28 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 1, 2:30 p.m.
$5 Children, Students, Military, and Seniors
For more info, call 915-351-1455.