Tune in Tokyo by the Can Can Castaways at Can Can
Some of you have already heard me holler about the great Seattle dance innovators called the Can Can Castaways. Those who have can skip to the next paragraph. For the uninitiated, a quick primer: The Castaways are the house dancers at the small, subterranean Can Can cabaret at Pike Place Market. They've existed for about six years and have rocketed from a simple burlesque collective to a company that fuses burlesque, circus-style acrobatics, and modern-dance choreography. They are basically a gateway drug for people who want dinner, drinks, and T&A, but would never buy a ticket to go see dance.
The Castaways have a new show called Tune in Tokyo that draws from Japanese/Korean-pop aesthetics, including a lip-synch dance routine to "I Am the Best," a smash hit by South Korean girl-group 2NE1. The Castaways still sex it up: There are round breasts, firm bums, and the unbelievably strong upper body of longtime company member Jonny Boy, who also builds their sets and welds together their circusy contraptions. In this show, he performs a spectacular solo while spinning on something that looks like the product of a bed that mated with a gyroscope.
One or two numbers tread dangerously close to orientalism, but Tune in Tokyo is playful homage, not fetish. (The cultural tweaking might read a little differently in, say, Cincinnati, or any city not on the Pacific Rim.) The show still has a few early-run rough edges—slightly awkward transitions, occasional wobbles in the synchronized routines—as well as bits that are breathtaking. Two of the male dancers perform an acrobatic number using a large pole—I know, hardy-har—that rivals some of the best acrobat/strongman routines around. In short: The Can Can Castaways are still going strong.