Reviewed by Steve Sucato

Winter may have had Northeast Ohio in its icy grip, but Miami-based choreographer Rosie Hererra’s world premiere work “House Broken” did its best to warm things up at Cleveland’s Breen Center for the Performing Arts with a laugh-out-loud dark comedy filled with sight gags and prop humor and tinged with the heartache of broken dreams and unfulfilled lives. It was one of three works on GroundWorks DancerTheater’s highly entertaining Winter Series program. The diverse program began however with choreographer Amy Miller’s joyful 2008 work for the company, “For the Life of Me”.  Set to music by Ingrid Michaelson, Amy Borkowsky, Giorgio Conte with a recorded story reading by Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, the work for five dancers had a youthful, playful vibe a la the opening of an episode of TV’s Friends. Miller’s contemporary choreography in the opening section had the dancers leaning into, lifting, and ducking under one another.

In the work’s second section Miller juxtaposed the dancer’s carefree movements ─ contacting each other via leg taps and knee bumps ─ with Tyler recounting a story of feeling invisible as a child in a sweets shop, helpless to act on his desire for a piece of coffee cake.  A third section found the dancers frolicking along an imaginary tightrope further illustrating an underlying theme in the work of growing up and walking a line between acting like an adult and letting your inner child rule.  The inventive work concluded with an amusing vignette in which the dances engaged in a children’s schoolyard game while answering machine messages played of an overprotective mother and those whom she had contacted in search of her adult daughter.