Floss! | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader


FLOSS!, Corn Productions, at the Cornservatory. The title misleads. This wacko concoction has nothing to do with dental hygiene: in the language of the fictitious Beboians, "floss" means "life purpose." Presumed paragons of ethnic authenticity, the Beboian people have sought their floss for centuries, migrating from one benighted isle to another. They now dwell on a sinking island in the middle of Lake Manitoba, where they export eels and seethe under the rule of the Categorically Conservative Culture Council. Their recreation is dance, dance, and more dance.

Corn's 65-minute cross-cultural travesty is supposedly a benefit to save the Beboian people by displaying their eclectic heritage to a sympathetic world. The seemingly inexhaustible ensemble dance out the Beboians' heroic journeys, colorful encounters with other tribes, and pliable mythology. Doggedly entertaining and evocative, the uncredited choreography pokes fun at percussive, modern, ethnic, and assimilationist dance, including cunning lampoons of Riverdance, Footloose, and Stomp and an unsubtle reference to Blue Man Group.

It's hard to say whether Floss! aims to send up our American penchant for exoticizing indigenous groups, the fatigued state of our compassion for endangered subspecies, or simply showbiz cliches (one hilarious bit depicts the triumph of an insecure understudy). Or maybe it's best to simply enjoy the arduous fun--especially the eel dance, which will haunt your dreams. Half the effect here is the effort: on a hot night, this un-air-conditioned theater becomes a sauna, and it seems the dancers might be as much an endangered species as their beloved Beboians.

--Lawrence Bommer

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