What’s a Galumpha? Well, we know that the verb “galumph” is one of the “portmanteau words” that Lewis Carroll coined for his comic/heroic poem Jabberwocky: “He left it dead, and with its head/He went galumphing back.” The construction was presumably meant to evoke “galloping in triumph,” but it has since taken on the sense of a clumsy, clodhopping (albeit gleeful) gait.
That’s not the sort of graceful movement that one traditionally associates with modern dance, so we have to assume that such cognitive dissonance was fully intended when Andy Horowitz and Greg O’Brien first formed their troupe in 2002 and christened it Galumpha. The acrobatic style of dance practiced by the company may have its roots in such semi-abstract innovators as Mummenschanz and Pilobolus, but the element of humor is clearly designed to be as important to the Galumpha experience as the muscular spectacle of improbably entwined human forms.
The group describes its “experiments in human architecture set to music” as “a sensory feast of images ranging from the ridiculous to the sublime…offering world-class, award-winning choreography (Edinburgh Festival Critics’ Choice Award, Moers International Comedy Arts Prize) that is equally at home on the concert stage, at a comedy club or at an outdoor festival.” One piece titled Velcro has been seen on The Late Show with David Letterman, Crook and Chase on TNN and even one of Jerry Lewis’ Muscular Dystrophy Telethons; another, called Clackers, has been televised via MTV, Showtime, A & E and on Just for Laughs in Montreal.
The two founders still dance with the company, and Will Matos and Emiko Okamoto, Kate Parlato, Vivake Khamingsavath, Erin Stanley and Dywon Fisher round out the roster of this Binghamton University-based company. That should constitute an ample supply of slapstick sinew for the performance that Galumpha will be giving this Saturday, February 25 at the McKenna Theatre on the SUNY-New Paltz campus, courtesy of the Unison Arts & Learning Center.
The show starts at 7:30 p.m. Advance tickets cost $23 for general admission, $18 for Unison members, half-price for students, and are available by calling (845) 255-1559 or visiting www.unisonarts.org/programs/galumpha.html. Tickets will also be available at the door for an additional $2.