Nicholas Leichter Stages a Space Funk Invasion at the Seaport

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One of the best things about site-specific dance is watching spectators’ faces morph from expressions of dumbfounded confusion to delight. This was certainly the case last Thursday at the Seaport, when the usual crowd of tourists and business people on their lunch break unexpectedly found themselves in the midst of Nicholas Leichter Dance’s “Space Funk Invasion.”

NLD’s Seaport performance, which continues through Thursday, is the fourth in a series of five works taking place this summer as part of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Sitelines Series.

The half-hour show featured Leichter and members of his company, along with Monstah Black – musician, dance artist and self-proclaimed Messiah of Funk – as a colorful master of ceremonies. “Are you feeling purple?” asked Monstah, whose own outfit indicated that he was feeling purple enough for the entire Tri-State area.

Leichter and dancers performed clubby, crowd-pleasing moves to songs by Daft Punk and The Time, along with some live accompaniment from Monstah, who deftly maneuvered around the dancers in nosebleed platforms. Leichter’s range is broad – his company, founded in 1996, cross-pollinates traditional, contemporary, folk and popular dance forms – but this performance sticks primarily to hand-clapping, hip hop-flavored fare.

One exception was a passionate duet performed by two men – a more serious segment that proved to be a bit too much for the small group of children that had gathered nearby. As the dancers grappled with each other in sensual lifts and embraces, the kids became audibly worked up. “Are they gay?” one of them asked. Shortly thereafter, their adult minders led them away. The rest of the crowd seemed happy enough to go along on this detour, and resumed their hooting and hollering as the company continued its funky dance party on the cobblestones.

The next and last installment of this year’s Sitelines Series, gabrielle lansner & company’s “Turning Heads, Frocks in Flight,” will take place August 3-13 in Battery Park City’s South Cove Plaza.