What the world needs, as Pons and Fleischman have recently demonstrated so forcefully in Utah, is people who turn their perspective on life this way and that and examine phenomena in new and imaginative ways, unfettered by habit, or prevailing styles or the straitjacket of convention.
If you agree, hustle on down to the Capitol Theater this weekend to see two groups - ISO Dance Theatre and The Bobs a cappella singing foursome - who seem to have forgotten how to look at things in the normal, foursquare way. Predictably, a great deal of what they see is funny.Both groups have acronymic names. ISO stands for a sort of motto for the company, "I'm So Optimistic," and each of the four Bobs has adopted the middle name Bob, which stands for "Best of Breed."
ISO and the Bobs, who have been acclaimed individually from one end of the country to the other, have recently discovered that their particular brands of humor and adventure complement each other to a T. So have audiences at New York's Lincoln Center and in San Francisco. And now, with Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company as sponsors, they will appear here in joint concert Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. Tickets ranging from $8-$25 are now on sale at the Capitol Theater box office, 533-5635.
Utahns have already seen one-fourth of ISO here, in association with Ririe-Woodbury last summer, when Jamey Hampton was in Utah to teach and choreograph for the company's Move It 1988 workshop. He left behind a piece for R.-W.'s fall concert, "Devouring the Bunyip," which is typical of Hampton's high energy, free-wheeling style.
ISO's four dancers are all dropouts from Moses Pendleton's MOMIX. The men, Hampton and Daniel Ezralow, even go back to Pilobolus Dance Theatre. Ezralow also danced with Lar Lubovitch and Paul Taylor, Hampton with Crowsnest and Tandy Beal. Ashley Rowland trained with Alvin Ailey, Joffrey and David Howard before joining MOMIX, and Morleigh Steinberg, trained in Los Angeles and Interlochen Academy, founded a Parisian dance company pre-MOMIX. The four founded ISO in 1986.
The San Francisco Examiner found their gymnastics awesome, their technique brilliant and their choreography captivating, with "glorious dancing that enthralls the audience, turning them into wide-eyed believers." "I wish all dancers could see their fresh outlook on what movement can do on stage with unfettered imagination," said the Denver Post.
Since forming their dynamic union, they have toured widely in the United States and Japan. Throughout Italy and at the Spoleto Festival in 1987, their universal language was well understood. Look for them on music television videos, television commercials and fashion-dance spectacles, associated with such diverse luminaries as Sting, David Bowie, John Fogerty and the Kronos String Quartet. Future plans include tours of Israel, Europe, Brazil and the United States, sometimes in collaboration with The Bobs.
As for the Bobs, their bio sheet will make you laugh, and that's more than you can say about most self-conscious brag-sheets. "All they do is sing like crazy, sell out everywhere they go, make thousands happy, attract a large and loyal following and behave like ladies and gentlemen at all times, usually," said their agent. "When tossed into a large tub of water, they rise immediately to the surface," said an anonymous source. "The Bobs sing like Gary `Far Side' Larson draws," said the Seattle Daily Times.
The Bobs claim to have come into being when Gunnar Bob Madsen and Matthew Bob Stull lost their jobs at a singing telegram company back in 1981. That night, while celebrating with other unemployed friends, they got the idea to start an a cappella singing group.
They advertised for a bass singer and got only one reply - Richard Bob Greene. As a trio they gained notoriety around San Francisco but felt something was missing.
Another classified ad yielded Janie Bob Scott, a "low-voiced female." They were nominated for a Grammy in 1984, have appeared widely in television variety shows, had a one-hour special on PBS and sing at jazz, folk and performance art festivals (Utah Arts Festival in 1987). They too have been to Italy, have sung on the Smothers Brothers Show and have completed their third record album.
The Bobs call their style nu-wave a cappella and dip into doo-wop, scat singing, soul, Broadway/cabaret, and rock 'n' roll. How about such original titles as "I Hate the Beach Boys," "Cowboy Lips," "(First I Was a Hippie, Then I Was a Stockbroker) Now I Am a Hippie Again," "My, I'm Large" and "Please Let Me Be Your Third World Country"? In other people's territory, they add their own licks to hits by such as Led Zeppelin, Talking Heads, the Beatles and Elvis Costello.
"It's sort of incidental, the fact that we don't have a band - as well as being cheaper. . . . I think the more high-tech everything becomes, the more appealing it is to be no-tech," said Greene. To which the Washington Post rejoins, "The Bobs . . . prove that the human voice remains the most powerful instrument of all."
Following the Friday night show, Ririe-Woodbury will entertain with a backstage party, featuring food, good company and high energy pops music by Powerplay. Admission to the party will be $10.