On Friday the 13th of October, BodyVox, a Portland-based dance company, will bring their frightfully fun performance “BloodyVox” to Astoria’s historic Liberty Theatre.
A story told in body movement, “BloodyVox” nods to Halloween as well as local ghost legends. The “Cirque du Soleil”-esque performance features old standbys — like ghosts, goblins and vampires — and pop culture staples: “The Shining,” Alfred Hitchcock, even Abbott and Costello.
The show is “rather cinemagraphic with setting, character and story,” said Jamey Hampton, who co-founded BodyVox with his wife and dance partner, Ashley Roland. “Each dance we present is its own little movie.”
Unlike many traditional shows, “BloodyVox” pairs classical horror like Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” with satire like Mel Brook’s “Young Frankenstein.”
“The work is very approachable and not confusing or alienating,” Hampton said. “Even the sad pieces are lovely.”
Hampton and Roland, who conceptualized and choreographed the show in honor of their favorite holiday, tried to avoid the obvious Halloween trappings.
“There is a real variety of emotions, but most of it is purely fun,” Hampton said. “We intentionally stay away from horror and gore; it’s been overdone with haunted houses.”
“BloodyVox” is creepy, yes, but also festive. The Liberty lobby will be decorated, and guests are encouraged to come in costume.
“We’re known for being haunted here (at the Liberty). ‘BloodyVox’ will be paying homage to our Astoria ghosts,” Jennifer Crockett, the theater’s executive director, said. “There may even be — wink, wink — Astoria ghosts in the show.”
The all-ages event begins at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m. for a wine and beer reception.
Reservations are recommended. Tickets range from $20 to $35 and can be purchased at libertyastoria.org or at the box office 2 to 5:30 p.m.
“You can bring a 7-year-old and they’ll love it, and your 90-year-old grandma will love it, too,” Hampton said.
Colorful, scary, fun
Roland and Hampton have been a creative team since the beginning.
“Anything we make collaboratively is better than what we could do alone,” Roland said.
The couple met on the East Coast in a dance company in New York before moving out west in 1994. They freelanced until 1997, when they formed BodyVox, and married that same year.
One of their first projects in Portland was choreographing “Carmina Burana” for the Portland Opera. Through that experience, the couple met dancers who would eventually form the BodyVox dance troupe.
“The interesting thing about being co-collaborators and being married is, in the end, we never know who said what. We invent the whole thing together,” Roland said.
She added, “The beauty is the level of trust we’ve developed in each other. If you’re making a piece and one person runs with an idea and stumbles and stops, you can pass the ball to the other person. You end up bouncing off each other, and the original idea can go even further than you thought.”
BodyVox has become a way of life for Hampton and Roland. It has consumed most of their time for the last 20 years. “It is almost my full focus,” Hampton said. “For fun, I have a band and play music.”
The dance company performs regularly in Europe. They recently performed twice in China in one season. “We go international whenever we can. We love it,” Hampton said.
The “BloodyVox” show marks BodyVox’s fourth time putting on a show at the Liberty.
“‘BloodyVox’ is very eclectic and unique,” Roland said. “The themes we get to explore within the context of Halloween make the show colorful, scary and fun.”