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Review: ‘One Night Only,’ With Energy to Spare


The longtime collaborators Anna Bass and Monica Bill Barnes in “One Night Only.”

Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Competition is inherently dramatic, yet sports have been woefully underrepresented on stage. When they have, whether in “Damn Yankees,” “Take Me Out” or “Lombardi,” the focus has largely been on relationships rather than the beauty, power and endorphin-fueled giddiness of athletic feats. (Boxing is the exception, with “Beautiful Burnout” and even the musical “Rocky.”)

The new show “One Night Only (running as long as we can),” from Monica Bill Barnes & Company, attempts to highlight the physicality of sport, and for it to be hatched by a modern choreographer like Ms. Barnes is fitting. Sport is movement, often gruelingly so, and it incorporates repetition, competition (with oneself or others) and performance.

This is perfect for the ecumenical Ms. Barnes, who has also long been interested in a broad range of inspirations and performing spaces — “One Night Only” is playing Off Broadway at the WP Theater (formerly known as the Women’s Project Theater) rather than at a dance theater like the Joyce.

Tellingly “One Night Only” is not so much about rivalry as it is about complicity. Ms. Barnes and her stage partner, Anna Bass, have been collaborating for years and clearly share a near-telepathic bond. Then there is the rapport they establish with the audience — sometimes friendly and sometimes less so, as when Ms. Bass coerced us into groan-inducing group participation, then demanded that a volunteer confess her age.


Ms. Bass, left, and Ms. Barnes collaborate in vignettes that mix aerobic intensity with offbeat humor.

Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Over the course of an hour, the two dancers, in black tailored pants and white tank tops, go through vignettes of aerobic intensity — leaps, extensions, spins, jogs — often flecked with flashes of mischievous humor. For instance, the show opens with Ms. Barnes and Ms. Bass running on side-to-side treadmills; the smoothness of their stride remains constant, even when they reapply their makeup or put on feathered headdresses.

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