Review: In ‘Funkedfied,’ the Visceral Glory of Funk

Review: In ‘Funkedfied,’ the Visceral Glory of Funk

Part of what makes this dance idiom recognizable is a certain narrowness, and over the course of an hourlong show, as the same moves kept returning, I periodically found myself wondering if Mr. Harris and the dancers had run out of material. But then some dancer would flash a fresh variation, musically witty or physically astonishing, and my doubt would dissolve into pleasure.

That creativity is the glory of the show, but my worry was a sign of structural flaws. Despite Mr. Harris’s fluid staging, which has the look of a street corner with folks always passing through, the overall pacing is herky-jerky, hampering the twitchy style rather than enhancing it. And there’s little to hold the show together except a slight connecting thread of autobiography, a few oddly placed voice-over segments in which Mr. Harris tells anecdotes about his youth as a funk-style dancer or ruminates on the meaning of funk.

Funk has two sides, he says at one point. It’s not just good times and getting down; it’s politics and pain, too. But while Mr. Harris’s previous work has done more than anyone else to expose and develop the darkly expressive potential of funk styles, the darkness here is mostly murk and vague melancholy, an overreliance on slow motion and ominous sound effects that make it hard to understand what Mr. Harris is saying.

And some of what he’s saying is important, wisps of an origin story for hip-hop dance. You won’t learn much of that story from “Funkedified,” but you might sense it, as spirals and flares of breaking mingle easily with popping and locking. If your face starts crumpling, you’ve found the funk.

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