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'Funny Uncle' invites families for holiday fun

December 10, 2007|Lynne Heffley

"Gumdrops and the Funny Uncle," a holiday celebration of family from Washington, D.C.'s Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, will run Thursday through Saturday at downtown's New LATC (formerly the Los Angeles Theatre Center).

The all-ages show is the latest touring production from the 30-year-old multiracial and multigenerational company known for community-inspired work.

"Gumdrops," explains Peter DiMuro, the dance company's producing artistic director, was sparked by real experiences of traditional and nontraditional families -- including unconventional uncles. "Funny uncles can be a lot of things," he says, "but some funny uncles are just great fun."

In fact, it was DiMuro's own experiences, as a gay uncle in real life and as a gay performer often cast as the "funny uncle" in "The Nutcracker," that inspired the production.

Other material came from people who donated stories on a company blog site and from the cast. The result: a multimedia work surrounding the tale of a little girl and her own "funny uncle," incorporating shadow puppetry, projections of real people relating their own stories and storytelling through movement.

"What I love about the work that the Dance Exchange does," DiMuro says, "is this combination of real narrative and a kind of poetic and metaphoric landscape that dance allows you."

An hour before each show, master shadow puppeteer Molly Ross will hold a Scene Building Workshop, where audience members can create slides that will become part of the scenery.

On Tuesday, free events include a Families Dancing Workshop from 6 to 8 p.m., open to all but allowing ticket holders a chance to be worked into the show, and a "Making Art With Communities" panel discussion from 8 to 9:30 p.m. -- Lynne Heffley

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