It’s more than nice that another round of audiences get to see Danielle Georgiou’s provocative, beautiful, and deeply unsettling multisensory dance show NICE. Having played the Wyly as part of the Elevator Series in November, the members of Danielle Georgiou Dance Group and co-collaborators Justin Locklear and Paul Slavens return with this meditation on etiquette and expectations.
Punctuated by Emily Post’s advice, the dancers create different scenarios in which society expects people (mainly women) to act a certain way. Slavens, ensconced in the corner with a keyboard, intones soothing phrases like “From the day you are born until the day you die, I just want you to be nice.” The movements Georgiou has her dancers enact, and the lines of Locklear’s script that they speak, add a layer of menace which is furthered by misogynistic, early 20th-century tunes (“Too Fat Polka” and “Slap ‘er Down Again, Paw”). It’s chilling when you realize that these ancient-sounding songs still carry with them a nugget of truth about our culture.
And don’t think you’re safe off the stage. Audience participation begins when you enter, with the dancers disguising insulting remarks with winning smiles as they lead you to your seat. Don’t take too much offense—after all, they’re just trying to be nice.