Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Definition Of A Man Report

Make no mistake, the half-house audience for the opening night of Definition Of A Man came to see John Gray, not Danny Tidwell. It's an interesting dynamic and a poignant illustration of the precarious position dancers find themselves in. That's not to say the crowd didn't respond to Danny's performance, but more on that later.

Not being a theater critic or anything more than an adequate writer, I'm unqualified to critique the show itself. It's a re-telling of the African-American experience, with all the ugly history that entails, but there's also humor and hope. Confronting the unspeakable inhumanity in our past is always painful. There's nothing groundbreaking here though. Mr. Gray carries and portrays the narrative well. He's a powerful singer and engaging personality. He's supported by a small cast of singers and dancers, and actress Shawn Flowers. It's presented on a spare, rotating stage with projected backgrounds. The two hours went by quickly.

In the finale, John Gray sings on one side of the stage, Israel Houghton plays guitar and sings on the other. Danny wanders onstage...


in a casual white shirt and skinny black jeans. Soon, he's dancing Roger Jeffrey's lyrical choreography between the two. It was a lot to absorb. I wanted to listen to John Gray sing, to Israel Houghton play and sing, and I wanted to watch Danny dance. The audience was on its feet cheering Danny's seemingly endless, effortless spins as the song reached its dramatic crescendo. Where's the Play Again button? I wanna see that again!

During curtain call, Danny's ovation was second only to Mr. Gray's, as it should be. As the cast was leaving the stage, Danny wanted to bust some freestyle moves with other cast members. Sorry Danny, you're not on So You Think You Can Dance any more. He got no takers.

Overheard as the audience was filing out:

"He was good. You know he was on that show So You Think You Can Dance?"

"Which show is that?"

"It's a reality show".


There was a meet & greet in the lobby after the show. I got to ask Danny a few questions. He got involved with this show because he's been friends with John Gray and his wife for years. This audience was definitely a different vibe than what he had experienced over the last several months, but he loved performing for them. There are no plans at this time for a Danny Tidwell Dance Company. He's currently concentrating on growing movmnt magazine, training for dance opportunities, and taking acting lessons. He'll be dancing the role of the Russian doll in his upcoming performance of The Nutcracker in San Diego. He's excited to be dancing with his friends Rasta Thomas and Carrie Imler again, and expects the shows to be sellouts. I represented for our Canadian and Australian readers who would love to see Danny perform. There are no plans currently to perform in either country, but he says he would jump at the opportunity. Translation: call and write your local dance companies. Let them know you want your Danny.

By this time the audience members were reaching Danny after meeting John Gray and Shawn Flowers, so I backed away. They were politely and enthusiastically complimentary to Danny, but I'm not sure any were converted to being dance fans.

The show is planned for a February airing on HBO, though I only saw one, stationary camera in the theater, so I doubt this performance will be the one shown. We'll remind you when we know an air date.

Shawn Flowers and Danny Tidwell

A supporting dancer, John Gray, Shawn Flowers, and Danny Tidwell