Choreographer Monica Bill Barnes stakes her reputation on impeccable movement deployed in unpredictable locations and collaborations. On Friday, November 17, she brought her show Happy Hour to the Ballet Studio at UCSB as part of a residency with the university’s dance department.
In Happy Hour, Barnes and Anna Bass wear grey men’s suits and pull their hair back tightly, the better to assume the identities of a pair of dudes they refer to as “office guys.” Audience members are encouraged to treat the studio as if it were the location of a real “happy hour,” and the characters the dancers create respond to the crowd as though they were “on the prowl” in the most hilariously obvious way. Given the heightened awareness of sexual harassment and assault brought on by the #MeToo movement, this piece could not be timelier. Barnes and Bass never once broke character as they spent the better part of an hour dancing, lip synching, and macking on every girl in sight, sending up male pretense and body language in an unforgettable revue of stale machismo.