Funky, far out, bright and funny; very little serious, and nothing sacred. That's ISO and the Bobs who, if not coming from the exact same corner of the earth, are at least traveling on the same wavelength.
"I'm So Optimistic" is a motto that captures the essence of ISO's four dancers, who project an upbeat, often zany and always audience-focused image. Don't look for Freudian examinations of the psyche, or self-involved monologues that revolve around Fascinating Me. With hands outstretched they seem to say "Let me entertain you," and proceed to do so with aggressive, almost vaudevillian good cheer. Witty, irreverent, and aware of the foibles of our times, they fit into the age of Saturday Night Live.
As for the Bobs, they do have much in common with the Mills Brothers in the sort of arrangements they favor, the old-fashioned rhythmic beat, and that growling, rumbling bass foundation. With nonsense syllables and crazy instrumental imitations, they support one solo singer who takes the burden of a refrain, usually of their own composition. The variety is endless, and everyone is a great singing story-teller; they get the words out, and more importantly, they deliver the style, the mood and the message.
From the moment the curtain rose on a strobe-like lantern show, you knew you were in this thing for fun. Then the jump-suited dancers slit the sheet and stepped through, bound their ankles together and clipped off "Serial Killers," a brightly synchronized, quasi-military drill that has to be one of the world's best opening acts.
You couldn't miss the appeal of "I Do," a wild and crazy pas de deux for Daniel Ezralow and Megan Brazil, with a sentimental adagio. In "Linguini Arms" Jamey Hampton and Brazil explored the possibilities of the elastic bunji cords in waves and circles and cat's cradle patterns, a la Chinese. Clever lighting illuminated one panel after another (actually Venetian blinds) in "Through the Wall" as the dancers dressed and undressed, then lit further frolicsome shade-peeping in "Blind Venetians," to the frank and honest strains of "Your (saxophone playing) Boyfriend is a Jerk."
Raunch was represented by "Pounded on a Rock," a risque sort of spiritual, and irreverence by Danny Ezralow as a backsliding man of the cloth with more than the usual sexual drive, while Janie Bob Scott as a nun in habit sang "Temptation." Ezralow flaunted his Pilobolus antecedents, fantastic contortions and gymnastics, even breakdancing skills, in "Hoover Hallucinations," as a drunken Lothario who wishes to woo a nubile young thing, but can't get much beyond the edge of his rug before collapsing.
Most beautiful entry was "De-programmer," a pas de deux for man (Hampton) and flying girl (Brazil) who appeared to float and circle like a guardian angel, with many pulse-quickening spins and swoops. And "Seawater Tango" looked more like eastern temple dancing in a slow and graceful alternation of poses.
In a program of short, snappy numbers the Bobs had many fine moments on their own, such as "My I'm Large," another shadow show where the singer gradually assumed gigantic proportions as the other three shrank. Funniest words may have been in "Let Me Be Your Third World Country," and best instrumental imitations in "You Can't Do That." And what better conclusion for all than the "Chicken Shack Rap," a rollicking, dosey-do of a dance that led naturally into many improvisatory curtain calls.