Teeth Dance


makers teeth
Image: Adam Levey
In a sweltering room above a furniture-consignment shop, a man is screaming. And laughing maniacally. A mass of broken bodies writhes at his feet. The bodies clutch at his arms and legs as the grinding pulse of synthesizer music fades, until all one hears is the thud of knees and knuckles slamming against particleboard flooring. The scene is befitting a Saw film, but this macabre circus is, in fact, just another rehearsal for local dance ensemble Teeth, whose latest brilliantly salacious choreography, Grub, hits the Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center November 13 to 15. Founded in 2006, Teeth unapologetically stretches the very definition of what many of us might call dance—not to mention the boundaries of avant-garde art forms, or even good taste (not everyone takes kindly to disembodied deer heads). But leave it to Teeth—whose name is an homage to the many years of dental surgery and trauma endured by Angelle Hebert, the company’s co-director and choreographer—to thumb its nose at boundaries.

“We usually have at least a couple people walk out of every show,” says Teeth co-director and composer Phillip Kraft. He could be referring to a recent performance of Benumbed, in which a cast dressed in crudely stitched canvas and metal appeared to devour a fellow dancer like a pack of rabid dogs. Not that the ick factor seems to bother Kraft, or Hebert, his wife. Their first performance, Rash, featured just the two of them, and revolved around a drenched and contorted Hebert pulling and prying painfully at her own mouth. Although the company has grown to six dancers for its performance this fall, the promotional photos for Grub, which feature nearly naked dancers wallowing in the mud of a pig trough alongside a real live swine, reveal that the masterminds behind Teeth are just as twisted as ever. —Martha Calhoon