What the heck is … Bonobo Milkshake?

October 17, 2013
(Julie Lemberger)
(Julie Lemberger)

Performers won’t ape apes in this modern dance piece at the American Dance Institute on Saturday. Rather, choreographer Sally Silvers aimed to capture the spirit of the bonobo (a type of ape) by depicting a whirlwind of relationships between different sets of dancers. “[Bonobos] use sexuality to keep everyone happy and eliminate male aggression,” Silvers says. The title’s dairy treat hints at the dance’s cheerful mood. “Who doesn’t like a milkshake?” Silvers says.

Broadway (Un)Bound: The classic musicals of Stephen Sondheim figure into the piece, though no one flat-out does a Broadway number. At one point, performers prance, preen and show off their legs, a shout-out to the aging showgirls of “Follies.”

Who Needs a Fourth Wall? A core company of six dancers will perform the more intricate choreography, while six others roam the stage and aisles, doing improvisations that play off of the ideas explored by the main dancers. “It’s a lot of layers,” Silvers says. “It’s like a collage of ideas and movement.”

Then It Gets Weird: During the one-hour performance, the cast will perform a dry synchronized-swimming routine, compete in a roller derby and mime martial arts. They’re backed by an equally eclectic soundscape, which includes live spoken-word poetry. “It’s all about human society,” Silvers says. Only her version is trippier than a pack of bonobos at Burning Man.

American Dance Institute, 1570 E. Jefferson St., Rockville; Sat., 8 p.m., & Sun., 2 p.m., $15-$30; 855-263-2623. (Twinbrook)

Sadie Dingfelder is a features writer for the Washington Post Express.
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