Dance review: 'Hans was Heiri' delightful

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Imagine a huge funhouse turned on its side and rotating first one way, then the other, its inhabitants spilling hither and yon in a crazy quilt of acrobatics and movement. That would be just an inkling of what went on in Zimmermann & de Perrot's monumentally delightful "Hans was Heiri."

The Swiss-based company became the next installment of both the Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts and Pittsburgh Dance Council, which continued their winning ways at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture Wednesday night.

I, for one, would like to know what else was in their cups of Swiss chocolate when they created this show or, better yet, to have been a fly on the wall during what must have been zany rehearsals. No one else has concocted an original music score out of crowd noise. I've never seen a woman squirm in and out of a tiny cube with such speed and dexterity, or a man slide over and around a small table with such mercuric flexibility.

It was all about exploring individuality. But with puppets and sliding frames added to the mix, "Hans was Heiri" became a virtual madhouse, filled with dazzling sleight of hand, of bodies, of chairs and of tables.

Sometimes you just didn't know where to look. With circus skills, the performers hung from the cube and ran around the perimeter, although the leggy blond woman was casually poetic in her solo. And the nonsensical chatter ("Hey!" "Oh, wow!") that permeated the clown segments was taken to another level by manipulating the set pieces or having a "six-pack" showdown. Then there was the strip tease/yoga class combination -- figure that one out.

We all try to get through life as best we can. Some do it more cleverly than others. And some, like the seven members of Zimmermann & de Perrot, make it a captivating thrill ride. Lucky are those who get to travel along with them for an evening.

"Hans was Heiri" concludes at 8 tonight at the August Wilson Center, Downtown. The performance is sold out.


Former Post-Gazette critic Jane Vranish: She blogs at First Published October 17, 2013 8:00 PM


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