New dance show sets a dark tone, despite Hollywood pedigree

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If you combined the avant-garde choreography of Merce Cunningham with the wardrobe from the 1986 Sean Connery movie “The Name of the Rose,” you might end up with something resembling the trailer for “AXIOM,” a new dance show opening Thursday at Cafe Club Fais Do-Do in Mid City. (Embedded below.)

“It’s a dance performance, but it’s theatrical,”  said producer Kristin Campbell-Taylor. “You’re immersed in a world. You don’t know exactly what’s happening, it’s not a linear story, but it explores how humans treat and interact with one another, all told through dance.”

“AXIOM” is the brainchild of veterans of L.A.’s commercial dance world and Hollywood. Denna Thomsen, who co-choreographed and directed the show with fellow dancer Zak Ryan Schlegel, has appeared in music videos by the likes of David Bowie and Sigur Ros, and danced backup during Madonna’s Super Bowl half time show last year, among other high-profile credits. Actor Shia LaBeouf (who co-starred with Thomsen in the Sigur Ros video) is even an executive producer of “AXIOM.”

But the show itself is anything but commercial. Rather, it’s the kind of arty concert dance that critics have sometimes accused L.A. of lacking. It was conceived through a labor-intensive creative process involving all nine performers in the show.

“AXIOM” was “a collaborative team effort,”  said Campbell-Taylor. “It started with a basic kernel of an idea, was workshopped with the choreographers, developed, and it’s taken six months to choreograph the numbers and explore the emotions motivating the movement. Every piece is motivated by what’s driving the character.”

As for the dark tone of the trailer, she added, “It’s not happy and uplifting. It is about pain and how we hurt one another as human beings. But in the end, there’s resolution in that everybody survives and loves one another in spite of that.”

“AXIOM” runs at Fais Do-Do for three performances, this Thursday through Saturday.