Onstage at Z Space, “Hush” is an evening-length dance-theater piece that’s like a contemporary dance musical crossed with a dramatic sitcom. The chatty work opens with friends gathered around a bar. Before long, it’s poetry night, and humorous song and dance ensue.
Modular, elaborate sets give the piece a distinctively urban tone, with a bar and spangled open-mic stage, a rolling metal door with graffiti, clubby background noise, cafe tables, and a door and stoop to an apartment.
Featuring personal narratives of six characters, the stories in “Hush” include confessions, emotional outbursts, informal therapy sessions, commentary on sexuality and gender, breakup scenarios and rape. Also unexpectedly humorous, “Hush” could have played the comedy card more.
With major themes such as friendships, relationships and attraction, the drama necessitates intimate choreography and contact, and Goode’s dancers look best and at their most elegant in partnering moves, the kind combining physicality and dramatic prowess in which the troupe specializes.
Fans familiar with Goode, who has been pushing the boundaries of dance theater since founding his troupe in 1986, will find much to like in “Hush.” All six company members display acting chops and top-notch athleticism, and Damara Vita Ganley and Melecio Estrella’s dramatic consistency and physical stamina are particularly noteworthy.
Even the active sound makers are interesting to watch. Composer Ben Juodvalkis, who collaborated with Goode on 2012’s “When We Fall Apart,” works a laptop, keyboard and soundboard downstage right, while Sudhu Tewari fabricates sounds for every heel click and drink pour or plop from his station upstage left.
Besides a few long sequences toward the end — a romantic pas de deux with Estrella and Felipe Barrueto-Cabello and a boisterous musical finale — much of “Hush’s” dancing is intermittent, and the episodes start to feel endless.
The quietest moments, such as Vita Ganley’s monologue “dancelogues” set in a square spotlight, are the most beautiful.
Presented by Joe Goode Performance Group and Z Space
Where: Z Space, 450 Florida St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Thursday-Friday, 7 and 9 p.m. Saturday
Tickets: $15 to $75
Contact: (415) 626-0453, www.zspace.org