The young and hungry artists at Pointless Theatre aren’t kidding when they say they want to cross artistic boundaries. They’ve sent hundreds of original puppets hurtling across a tiny stage in a robot play; tackled material as diverse as Shakespeare, classic horror and Carmen Miranda; and now they’re doing a straight-up ballet with no less than Igor Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring.”
As usual, the production is stamped by impressive craftsmanship as 11 women dance the famous piece about community suffering and sacrifice. The good news is that Pointless, which long produced in the 50-seat Flashpoint (now closed), has substantially more floor space now that it is based at the roughly 100-seat Dance Loft on 14 (well uptown on 14th Street NW). The handmade artisan vibe is intact. “Rite of Spring” is a swift, cleanly executed 45 minutes.
Patti Kaili and director Matt Reckeweg have gently adapted the story, rather than upending it. The flat stage is empty except for a well that runs dry, which makes this an eco-fable about overtaxing Earth’s resources.
Pointless is not a dance troupe, yet the earthy expressiveness is restlessly inventive, and the dance discipline hits a fairly high bar. The barefoot ensemble turns, leaps and flexes in sudden angles (often in tight unison), and Stravinsky’s famous rhythmic accents propel Kathy Gordon’s athletic, ritualistic choreography, which was apparently built in a highly collaborative process.
Jean Yang’s landscape backdrop creates a timeless touch; the village’s elder sage is rendered as a life-size puppet (by Amy Kellet); and Frank Labovitz’s costumes are wonderfully light, simple garments that flare oddly just above the knee, giving the women a slightly science-fiction-y shape. It’s a vision, all right, and increasingly fierce as video projections add to the movement once the crisis moves toward sacrifice. The cumulative effect is very “Rite of Spring” — a performance of terrible beauty.
Rite of Spring, adapted by Patti Kalil and Matt Reckeweg. Directed by Matt Reckeweg. Sound design, Michael Winch; lighting and scenic design, Mary Keegan; dramaturg, Medha Marsten. With Anne Flowers, Eirin Stevenson, Elizabeth Ung, Janine Baumgardner, Acacia Danielson, Emmanuella Enemor, Sara Herrera, Sadie Leigh, Anna Lynch, Sharalys Silva-Vázquez and Deidre Staples. About 45 minutes. Through May 27 at Dance Loft on 14, 4618 14th St. NW. $30. 202-733-6321 or pointlesstheatre.com.