The Stranger vs. Bumbershoot

Here Come the Bad Boys

The Mind's Eye

The Surreal World

Booty Call

Intellectual Design

No Laughing Matter

Head Games

The Stranger Vs. Bumbershoot

The Eternal Struggle

Comics Are Hot!

Rocket Man

Second Skin

Bookish Babes

Satan Spawn and Selma's Cootchie

Who, When, Where

Buttrock SuitesMon Sept 5, Bagley Wright Theatre, 1–2 pm.

Shortly after Metallica released ...And Justice for All in 1988, I found myself at a Halloween party, dressed as a flapper and spontaneously choreographing a mutated version of the Charleston to the strains of "Eye of the Beholder." For a bizarre, goofy act inspired by too much Jack Daniels, it went off rather well and friends often asked for repeat performances.

Had I known local dancer and choreographer Diana Cardiff back then, we would have undoubtedly become fast friends. Cardiff, along with coproducers Matthew Mulkerin, Jana Hill, and Bob Gregory, is the creator of Buttrock Suites and its sequel, Buttrock Suites 2: Even Sweeter. Suites is an impressive hybrid of loving satire, physical comedy, and inspired, modern movement. Using a mixed-gender troupe of dancers and a crowd-pleasing soundtrack of '80s metal and hard rock, Cardiff and company execute a hilarious-yet-heartfelt performance that will entrance both metalheads and fans of modern dance. Originally conceived while Cardiff was rocking out in her car to Boston's "More Than a Feeling," the idea was brought to fruition after she was inspired by seeing Mulkerin and Hill do a contemporary dance piece set to Bon Jovi's "Wanted, Dead or Alive."

Cardiff graduated from the Dance Department at Cornish College of the Arts in 1991 and almost immediately cofounded the D9 dance collective, which she was an active member of up until last year. She now divides her time between performing in the companies of local choreographers Wade Madsen and Pat Graney and producing short-run productions like Suites. The first edition of the show in 2003 sold out its brief run and this year's sequel was equally as popular, selling out two weekends in a row. "Part of the reason for doing Buttrock Suites was to have a break from all that serious dance—which I love—but I just wanted to do something really fun and completely over the top," explains Cardiff. "I wanted to do all those moves that are so corny, but really gratifying, wear the costumes that are really cheesy, but really gratifying...."

It's damn gratifying for the audience too. Whether it's the tear-inducing hilarity of the show's slow-motion opener (to Europe's The Final Countdown) or the downright lascivious nature of seductive moves set to an assortment of Joan Jett tunes, there's never a dull moment in Suites. True to Cardiff's word, the dancers are all logically attired; from the Dee Snyder wigs to the spandex pants, everyone's got the looks that kill. And as funny as it all is, the show is hardly thrown together purely for comedic effect. "It's not all a big goof-off; I do take a lot of it very seriously," says Cardiff. This is true of her collaborators as well. One of the most memorable pieces in the set is "I'm Italy Now," Juliet Waller Pruzan's interpretation of Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train." Beginning with a dry, spoken-word rendition of the song and climaxing with her "biting" off the head of a dancer costumed to look like a bat, the piece is composed of a fluid series of graceful, unique movements that are anything but amateur.

Studious interludes such as this are balanced adroitly with more literal interpretations, such as Wade Madsen's rollicking version of Ted Nugent's "Cat Scratch Fever," complete with feline costume and loads of lyrical pantomime, or Matthew Mulkerin's "Kentucky Fried Halen" which goes places even David Lee Roth wouldn't dare tread. The high point is undoubtedly the Cardiff-choreographed closer, "Heavy Decibels." Eight dancers bend, weave, and roller-skate their way through a breathless medley of AC/DC songs (smoothly edited by local luminary Pete Droge), including a stunning take on "Big Balls" that simply must be seen to be believed.

For those who leave wanting more, Cardiff already has Buttrock Suites 3 in the works. "The [musical] options are pretty much endless," she enthuses. "Next, I'd like to do a Scorpions piece. I think I have to do the Scorps!"