Ezralow Dance Company in Open. Photo by Fabio Diena.

Norman Rothstein Theatre, Vancouver – February 15, 2018

The Chutzpah! Festival opened with Open – a witty, crowd pleasing piece performed by L.A. based troupe, Ezralow Dance.

Choreographer Daniel Ezralow’s commercial appeal is evident, with credits that include the opening ceremonies of the Sochi Olympics, works for the Paris Opera Ballet, Batsheva Dance Company, Cirque du Soleil and the 59th Grammy Awards in 2017.

Open is a series of mini vignettes performed by eight energetic dancers. Each vignette, presented one after another, depicted a unique idea.There were wedding vows that turned into a boxing match, a simplified interpretation of Romeo and Juliet, busy business folk in the city, a gumboot dance to classical music, and a case of mismatched colours that was rectified with onstage costume changes.

Ezralow employs gags and video effects that maximize audience amusement and entertainment value. In one vignette, dancers dashed behind and jumped out from panels in perfect sync with the images of them projected onto the front. Clever physicality and comedic timing gave surprisingly funny punchlines. After a man’s touching duet with a mermaid that he pulled ashore, he dutifully returned her to the sea with one determined toss. Some of the vignettes were more introspective, such as one where dancers seemed to depict trees swaying and stretching. However, his choice of music, tried and true classics by Bach, Tchaikovsky and Chopin, and others, kept the momentum going.

Open is slick and fun, and a great start to the festival.

The Chutzpah! Festival continues until March 15, 2018.

Ezralow Dance Company in Open. Photo by Paolo Laudicina.