Anyone who has caught his works at American Dance Festival and for Duke Performances likely would agree with critic Scott Stiffler: David Dorfman's company has made its mark by "asking big questions while shaking their groove things." At first blush, the time-capsule choreography and Amanda Bujak's retro costumes (replete with headbands, hip huggers and coronal Afros) in his latest work suggests Prophets of Funk is little more than an hourlong, feel-good tribute to Sly & the Family Stone.
But then dancer Whitney Tucker's character delivers a pointed warning about prophets. Another character gleefully starts biting other dancers' moves, repackaging them as his own. And Dorfman's own character, clad in a ridiculous ensemble of golf hat, sports coat and green platform shoes, interrupts the balance and the flow between black and white and male and female dancers. When he does, that would be a good time to reflect that Sly's band (and its music) was notably racially and sexually inclusive. Everyday people, indeed.
Dorfman's inquiry into the politics of dancing, the forces that diversity is vulnerable to, and the legacy of both has sharply divided critics on its tour over the past year. Raleigh's First Friday art patrons get a taste the night before when the company previews sections of the show at Artspace, 201 E. Davie St., at 7:15, 8:15 and 9:15 p.m. —Byron Woods