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Lionel Popkin & Elephants Dance @ REDCAT

photo by Scott Groller
photo of Lionel Popkin "bacon" by Scott Groller
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Who knew local choreographer/dancer Lionel Popkin has such an interesting background? I did know about his New York tenure with the iconic Trisha Brown Dance Company and his shorter stints with smaller downtown groups, but none of that revealed his unique heritage and its influence on his recent dance making. A few years ago, he presented a duet as part of the summer NOW Festival at REDCAT that, among other movement ideas, included dancing with his partner’s finger in his mouth. A strange relationship with little explanation offered, it now starts to make sense to me.

Promotional materials describe Popkin’s divergent cultural identities (Jewish dad and South Asian mom) and his complicated connection to Ganesh, the revered deity in the Hindu religion who is known as the Remover of Obstacles. In There Is An Elephant In This Dance, which opens Thursday at REDCAT and runs through the weekend, the artist and his colleagues play off a comically overlarge plush elephant costume, worn in pieces or as a whole.

Yikes! Is this a Sesame Street knock-off geared to the under ten crowd and their parents?