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Hot Guys Dancing’ Delivers What The Title Promises And More

Modern dance showcase returns for third year at Diversionary Theatre

Credit: Sue Brenner

Above: Chad Ortiz dances solo in Michael Mizerany's "Via Dolorosa,' one of the dances in the 2015 edition of "Hot Guys Dancing" at Diversionary Theatre.

"Hot Guys Dancing" (continuing through this weekend at Diversionary Theatre ) is a perfect advertising come-on to reliably pack a house with gay men and straight women.

Diversionary Theatre was founded to “provide quality theatre for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.” Back in 2013, it wanted to add dance on its program. But dance programs can be a hard sell to audiences bombarded with what might be deemed sexier media options. That’s when organizers came up with "Hot Guys Dancing."

Choreographer Michael Mizerany confessed that initially he wasn’t crazy about the name but Diversionary felt it would give them the marketing edge they needed to make the dance show a success. As a small theater company, Diversionary had to keep a keen eye on the bottom line. So no matter how badly it wanted dance on its stage, it also knew it couldn’t afford to lose money. And they have been proven right. The third edition of “Hot Guys Dancing” opened to a full house on Friday and ticket sales are looking strong for the rest of the run, which ends on Sunday, Jan. 11.

Mizeray has grown more comfortable with the name because it’s become clear that it’s not "guys on poles or guys on boxes,” and audiences now know they can expect a contemporary dance concert. But one with hot guys dancing.

This year, Mizerany choreographed two pieces (one new and one old), and also added a group that brings in some lively hip-hop flair to the whole event.

Mizerany's new piece is a breathtaking solo number called “Via Dolorosa,” which is Latin for “the sorrowful way,” which describes the more traditional version of The Stations of the Cross.

When asked about the inspiration for the piece Mizerany had to go back to his childhood to reveal the source.

“I went to parochial school and The Stations were placed along the sidewall of the nave,” Mizerany recalled. “They were mini-sculptures carved in polished marble with a background of stained glass -- an odd combination of visual beauty and tragic circumstance. This solo is based on the fifteen scenes from the time Christ is condemned to death, stripped, crucified, laid in the tomb and resurrected. The fine points in these mini-sculptures were fantastic. Every muscle, every sinew, every minutiae of the physique was outlined and defined. In ‘Via Dolorosa,’ I echo this juxtaposition. Chad [Ortiz] dances the solo in a dance belt so that every contraction of every muscle is visible. There is an inherent beauty in the movement and dancer, though the journey itself is heartbreaking.”

Which brings us back to the show’s title of Hot Guys Dancing. There is partial nudity in this piece but it is not about presenting something “sexy.”

“But rather an appreciation of the male form depicted in such vivid detail in the artwork,” Mizerany said. “So, beyond the obvious biblical implications, I think The Stations encourage us to act selflessly; putting our own needs aside and continue thinking of the greater good. Selflessness – therein lays the beauty.”

And it is a stunning piece that Ortiz performs with impressive strength, grace, and beauty.

Mizerany’s second piece, “Let Me Into Your Skin,” was commissioned by Diversionary Theatre in 2011 and is based on the play “Beautiful Thing” by Rosina Reynolds.

It’s a coming out story but Mizerany described it on the Diversionary blog as: “This duet looks at first love: that first touch, getting lost in your partner’s eyes, a soft lingering kiss and all the apprehension, nervousness and excitement it entails. No matter what your orientation, everyone remembers their initial crush, the butterflies in your stomach and the joy in your heart. As they say, love is universal.”

“Hot Guys Dancing” (running through Sunday at Diversionary Theatre) pushes our notions and expectations about what bot hot guys and dancing are all about.

Check out the video from last year's show.

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