One by one the dancers enter in the first number. Each has a name and a character drawn from the hoary annals of entertainment. There’s a dizzy dame in black who’s always fishing around for something in her carryall, a leggy platinum blonde with a boa and a long cigarette holder, a sailor whose moves are borrowed from Jerome Robbins’s Fancy Free, a couple in bronze who seem to be the best dancers but have a rocky relationship, a flouncy vamp in red fringe, a white girl in pigtails who’s probably underage, a prim secretary with glasses and a book, and assorted dudes on the make.
Choreographer Willie Rosario and dramaturge Edwin Sanchez don’t do anything to develop these stereotypes or make us care about them. If anything, by the end of the show they seem to have become more alike. So have the dances, which all seem to be variations on the same steps. In the ensemble numbers, nobody stays with the same partner for the whole time. There are displays of competitiveness, jealousy, vanity, and petulance, but nothing to attract attention for more than five minutes.
The orchestra plays long, painfully amplified numbers in between the dance numbers, and the dancers sit at the tables trying to look animated, but they aren’t given anything to work with — no ongoing character relationships, not even sociable business or props. Eventually it’s closing time and they all drift away. They may not have gotten whatever they came for, but they don’t seem to mind.
I’m not familiar enough with Latin social dance and music styles to tell how authentic Palladium Nights was. It might have been intended as a stagy anthology, a portrait of an era, a south-of-the-border Riverdance. I liked the orchestra despite its ear-splitting decibels. The dancing seemed a decorative add-on.
, Entertainment, Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, Music, More