Odyssey Dance ready to ‘Thrill’ Park City Halloween-style
September 24, 2013
Odyssey Dance Theatre artistic director Derryl Yeager credits Michael Jackson for the whole zombie trend that has devoured popular culture today.
"Leave it to him to figure out zombies have to dance," Yeager said in reference to the Moonwalker’s groundbreaking 1983 music video. "He had zombies losing limbs to the beat of the music before zombies were cool."
That concept also helped Yeager create his own dance macabre, known as "Thriller," 17 years ago.
The production is a night of repertoire that include hip-hopping mummies, contemporary ballet-dancing witches, high-leaping vampires and mini, homicidal Chucky dolls.
The Egyptian Theatre will welcome Odyssey Dance Theatre’s "Thriller" from Sept. 27 through Sept. 29, and Oct. 3 through Oct. 6.
Complementing the grooving ghoulies, monsters and undead, "Thriller" features the comedic Jason Jam, where three hockey-masked mass murders find their rhythms with scratch awls, baseball bats, machetes and chainsaws.
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While two are bent on scaring the audience, one seems to take the wind out of their sails.
"It never ceases to amaze me to hear the people laugh at Jason Jam," Yeager said. "There’s something funny about a Jason that didn’t graduate from mass-murder school."
In addition to these staple works that have been in the program’s repertoire since the beginning, Yeager has added some other eye-catching pieces.
"We’re bringing Steppin’ Wolves back, which was something we premiered two year ago in Park City," he said. "It’s a work that feature three guys who do step dancing, only I turned them into werewolves.
"They kind of remind me of the feeling I get when I watch the Jason Jam," Yeager said. "They don’t say any words, but grunt at each other and really make people laugh."
The performances will also feature a new work called "Blinded Me with Science."
"It’s about a scientist who has developed these robots who get out of control and take over," Yeager said. "We are utilizing these LED lights that the engineering department at Brigham Young University developed several month ago.
"What I like about them is that we can program these puppies to pulse with the music," he said. "So we attach them onto the dancers and they are also so bright that they just light up the stage."
In the past, Yeager has used various forms of lighting on the dancers, but the effect didn’t quite work out.
"We had to have up to 12 packs of batteries hooked onto the dancers and they just got in the way," he said. "With these new LED lights, the only power pack is a little square battery pack that is the size of an iPhone. They’re all radio controlled and the lights do what we want them to do."
New technological developments have helped Yeager refine "Thriller."
"We couldn’t do this even 10 years ago," he said. "So whenever something new is developed, I like to see what we can do in the context of ‘Thriller.’ If we can put a Halloween twist to something, it will fit into the show."
This year also marks the return of one of Yeager’s favorite dancers, Junior Chase.
"He was with us for a huge number of years and then took off to do an Elvis show in Las Vegas for three years," Yeager said. "I hated it when he left, because you don’t find people with his build who not only can move like him, but have his humor and timing."
Chase will perform as Quasimodo in the short pas de deux, Just a Hunch, and appear in another piece called Remote Man.
"His performances are great crowd-pleasers," Yeager said. "I’m so glad having him back."
The Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St., will present Odyssey Dance Theatre’s annual Halloween dance performance "Thriller" on Sept. 27 through Sept. 29, and Oct. 3 through Oct. 6. Evening curtain on Sept. 27 and 28, Oct. 3 through Oct. 5 is 7:30 p.m. The performances on Sept. 29 and Oct. 6 will start at 6 p.m. and there will be a 3 p.m. matinee on Oct. 5. Some images may be frightening for younger children. Tickets range from $35 to $48 and are available by visiting http://www.parkcityshows.com .