The clown will be the first to peek from behind the curtain, setting the stage for a vaudevillian romp.
He’ll be funny, as are most clowns when Stephen King isn’t around. And his comedy will have meaning.
“There will be four company members and the clown,” Sidra Bell says. “And the clown is the protagonist.”
She also was the choreographer for the feature film, “TEST,” which follows the relationship between two men in a dance company at the height of the AIDS crisis in San Francisco. The Manship Theatre will show the film at 7 p.m. Friday in the Hartley/Vey Studio Theatre, followed by a question-and-answer session with Bell.
“ReVue” has been evolving since its 2010 premiere in the Kelly Strayhorn Theatre of Pittsburgh, which commissioned it. Bell’s choreography looks at parts of the human condition, how a leader craves inclusion yet falls into isolation.
And it all moves through the clown’s antics.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has described Bell’s show as “a blend of vaudeville, Fellini and Cirque du Soleil.” These elements can be found in “ReVue,” which is driven by movement.
“Movement is my medium,” Bell says. “Like any visual artist, I use material as my vehicle. I looked at my own personal journey when I choreographed ‘ReVue.’”
Bell spoke from San Francisco, where she’d just completed a commission project. In Baton Rouge, she and the dancers not only will perform but conduct workshops at LSU, a juvenile detention center and in the Hartley/Vey Studio Theatre.
“Community outreach is a very important part of our work,” Bell says. “I’m especially excited about the workshop at the juvenile detention center. I worked with a detention center for women when I was in another dance company, and the director was heavily involved with outreach.”
Bell’s former dance company made regular visits to the women inmates. The response was powerful.
“They were so excited,” Bell says. “It allowed them to see outside of themselves, and it was very profound in the way it changed movement for me. I saw the things that it can do, the healing.”
Bell has bachelor’s degree in history from Yale University and a master’s degree in choreography from Purchase College Conservatory of Dance, in Purchase, New York. Along with heading a dance company, she also is a master lecturer at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and was an adjunct professor at Barnard College in New York.
Her dad is jazz pianist Dennis Bell.
“I tried ballet and modern dance, but there’s a very physical approach to movement,” she says. “And there’s a lot of improvisation, as there is in jazz.”
In fact, Bell has incorporated her dad into past performances.
“He’s done a lot of work with me for commissions,” she says. “He’s played live music for a jazz piece that I choreographed, and he’s performed with my company. He’s a constant collaborator, and it’s fun.”
But Dennis Bell doesn’t perform in “ReVue,” and though Sidra Bell choreographed it, she doesn’t perform in it, either.
“It’ll be our second trip to Louisiana,” she says. “We were in New Orleans in December, so we’re looking forward to coming back.”
“ReVue” also is part of the Dance Speaks program, in which the Manship Theatre is raising funds to send local children with HIV/AIDS to Camp Hope in Houston. And though the show is comedic, it features brief nudity that may not be suitable for younger children.