Babes With Blades: The Music Videos, Babes With Blades, at the Storefront Theater. Action spectacles nowadays regularly feature women kicking butt, but not so long ago the opportunities for fight-trained actresses to display their craft were largely limited to slaps and catspats. In 1997, however, stage-combat instructor Dawn “Sam” Alden and her colleagues founded Babes With Blades, an all-female company dedicated to showcasing the art of theatrical violence.
Their latest presentation continues that mission with gusto, in the process lampooning MTV, TV talk shows, marching bands, and holiday shoppers. An eclectic score accompanies a variety of scenarios, ranging from a pristine flamenco-tinged lesson in Spanish rapier to the slapstick high jinks of rival color guards squaring off with flagstaffs to Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever.” The program also includes duels, gang bangs, homages to The Matrix and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and the Babes’ trademark slo-mo Filipino kata. In perhaps the most abstract scene, two sparring partners grow increasingly impatient at a choreographer’s indecisiveness.
This violence is anything but mindless. Operating on several narrative levels at once, the mayhem also serves as a metaphor for carefully conceived psychological dynamics and offers surprisingly subtle subtexts. As a result we want to see each dazzling display of physical alacrity and sportive grace over again.