Mitchell Rose, who performed a solo concert at the Dance Place this weekend, is a modern vaudevillian, New York Loft style. His humor is of the wacky variety, his art built on observation and affectionate parody.
Who else would imprison both feet in an oversized shoe and proceed to do a tap dance? Or, dressed like Marcel Marceau, perform a mime sketch with exaggerated gestures and facial expressions with the props a mime generally leaves to the imagination? Watching Rose is seeing a restlessly brilliant mind at play. He doesn't stick to one genre and his antic imagination is totally unpredictable. He entertains with whatever pops into his head and, although one assumes that all of his routines have been carefully worked out, they have a fresh, ad lib quality.
Rose is less skilled a choreographer and dancer than he is a comic and mime. His movements are stiff, sometimes lumbering, and the dances themselves are not intrinsically interesting. In "Rolling Pilgrimage," a tale of biking from New York to Myrtle Beach told with slides, music and taped monologue, the dance is a running patter of commentary that adds little to the mixed media collage.
But when Rose dances with a life-sized doll that deflates under his ardor, or performs the beginning of 11 dances in various styles, dissecting the pomposity of pretentious choreographers with the deftness of a surgeon, it's apparent he is a master entertainer.