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Ministry of silly dances

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Sometimes breaking a leg is the best way to tickle your funny bone.

A six-night “Comedy in Dance Festival” in Williamsburg is hoping to attract fans of dance who have a sense of humor and fans of comedy who can sit through squirming, shuffling, and shaking.

Ideally, attendees are both.

“I love programming this festival as it brings together the often disparate worlds of comics and dancers, two groups that Triskelion regularly serves, but rarely perform together,” said Abby Bender, artistic director at Triskelion Arts. “It’s fun to see clowns give dancing a shot, and to see dancers willing to make fools of themselves.”

Bender sifted through over 40 entries to select the finalists for the festival and she made sure laughs were a priority.

“If there weren’t any ha-ha moments, it didn’t make the cut,” she said. “[It had to] walk the dog or butter my muffins.”

An improvisational theater and dance company called the Raving Jaynes have appeared at the festival several times before and this year their performance is Valentines Day-inspired, sourcing the faux romantic holiday for laughs.

“We’re very interested in awkwardness and vulnerability so Valentine’s Day is a good fit,” said Amy Larimer, a member of the Raving Jaynes. “I think a lot of the time, people laugh out of surprise or recognition.”

Other performers such as Lynn Neuman of dance company Artichoke Dance will participate for the first time, although it isn’t her first attempt at combining comedy and dance.

Neuman choreographed “Recession Dances,” which mixed popular dance styles of previous recession eras and refashioned them with wit. She sees comedy in dance as a tactful way to address controversial topics.

“Much of my work has been dealing with environmental issues,” said Neuman. “Serious, no doubt, but comedy can be quite effective in disarming an audience to look at and consider topics they otherwise might avoid.”

Indeed the festival highlights a plain fact that humor is a big part of all arts. Though slapstick comedy hasn’t been in vogue lately, and dance is often mocked for its overt seriousness, Bender sees a potential for laughs in both realms.

“Comedy and dance can have a ton in common,” she said. “The body can be just as hilarious as it can be gorgeous. Like any tool, it’s all in how you use it. The works might make you laugh because of the moves, narrative, theatrics, choice of costumes, music, or the way a dancer keeps moving her pointer finger that’s just not quite kosher.”

“Triskelion’s Fourth Annual Comedy in Dance Festival” in the Triskelion Arts’ Aldous Theater [118 N. 11th St. 3rd Floor between Berry Street and Wythe Avenues in Williamsburg, (718) 599–3577, www.triskelionarts.org]. April 19–21, 25–27, 8pm, $15, $12 students and seniors, $30 for 3-show package.

Updated 10:09 pm, July 9, 2018
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