Members say: Ambitious, Edgy, Quirky, Disappointing, Great acting

About the show

Somewhere in America, an army of pre-teen competitive dancers plots to take over the world. And if their new routine is good enough, they’ll claw their way to the top at the Boogie Down Grand Prix in Tampa Bay.

... Read more

In this pageant of ambition and ferocity, these young dancers have more than choreography on their minds, because every plié and jeté is a step toward finding themselves, and a fight to unleash their power.

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Time Out New York

"Ferociously funny...Barron’s riotous, rattling, sensational new play...The kids are played by adults of varying ages...They sometimes break out of their time frame to share perspectives they will have years later. The effect of this doubleness is often hilarious—the actors’ dance skills also vary—but also poignant...Wondrous ensemble cast...Sharp direction...Has a pussy-power message, it is anything but fearless. It embraces fear, hugs it tight, and channels it into a queasy kind of triumph.” Full Review

The New York Times

“Conjures the passionate ambivalence of early adolescence with such being-there sharpness and poignancy that you’re not sure whether to cringe, cry or roar with happiness...Blazingly original and unsettlingly familiar...Cuts to the bone...A fearless cast, directed and choreographed with gloriously rough magic...The fact that the actresses playing these girls are adults...makes this latest work a memory play — and a reminder of how impossible it is to escape the way we were.” Full Review


“The seriousness with which each battle is approached is one of the things that makes playwright Barron’s exhilarating ‘Dance Nation’ so good, especially in director/choreographer Evans' spot-on production. The point isn't to watch the play hoping they win. You just want to see them all get out of it alive...The young girls - and one boy...are all played by adults...thus we see the parallels between the issues they face as children and those that await them in adulthood.” Full Review

New York Stage Review

“The playwright interweaves her very funny play with topics that some might find out of bounds...Be prepared to be challenged...By presenting us with a wildly non-realistic dance team, Barron can slather on layers of fun, satire and incisive social commentary. The wildly nontraditional casting works well, with director Lee Sunday Evans perfectly illuminating the lives of the characters and providing the amusingly artless choreography as well. The cast is universally fine." Full Review

Broadway Blog

“A non-apologetic, visceral play about girls growing into women...A 105-minute explosion of theatricality, draws from a multitude of performing styles with a primal underbelly thanks to director/choreographer Evans...But it is Barron’s supercharged script, wildly veering on adolescent emotional tangents, that catapults the play into a realm of exceptional theatricality...Evans doesn’t attempt to tame Barron’s script. Instead, she embraces it full-throttle.” Full Review

DC Theatre Scene

“A surprise, and a shock, and a delight...Not really about dancing. It is a funny, sharp and very blunt look at adolescent girls – portrayed by a terrific cast made up of actors as old as 60...At its most entertaining and revealing in between the actual dancing...There are also some unusually explicit scenes that present adolescence at its most awkward, adventurous and messy...Funny, and a little shocking, and a bit weird, but also, somehow, very stirring.” Full Review

The Wrap

“The dancers’ ages range from 20 to 60...Our preconceptions about these dancers will quickly change...And our keeping track of those changes is just one of the small, quirky pleasures of Clare Barron’s new play...Watching ‘Dance Nation’ unfold, you’re not immediately sure of anything, and it’s a delight to have your sense of reality completely thrown off several times in a matter of minutes...Talented ensemble.” Full Review

New York Magazine / Vulture

“If you were ever a 13-year-old girl, Clare Barron’s daring, raw ‘Dance Nation' will probably hit you hard. If you weren’t, the play might feel like strange, even somewhat disturbing terrain, but I’d urge you to venture in all the same...A brave, visceral, excitingly off-kilter barbaric yawp of a play. It’s angry and it’s sad. It’s brash and it’s funny. And it gets at something excruciatingly tender: the burden of modesty on young American women.” Full Review

Stage Left

"This hilarious and unsettling new play is refreshingly weird and thrillingly honest; I have never seen anything like it, and that is a purposeful and rewarding aim of Ms. Barron’s exquisite writing...This ordered chaos is expertly directed and choreographed by Lee Sunday Evans, who transposes the naturalistic force of Ms. Barron’s words to the stage amid flights of supernatural fancy, seamlessly managing tone throughout and crafting grounded and rounded characters." Full Review

Diandra Reviews it All

“Hilarious, thoughtful, and shows that being 13 is 100% a sentimental ride, but being a 13 year old girl can feel like an emotional odyssey...Barron’s writing is not only witty, but a confrontation of how society’s stapling of little girls as ‘too emotional’ or dismissing them as ‘feeling too much’...You will cry and you will laugh as you see a batch of 13 year old girls be so present in their heart and learn how to strengthen that presence.” Full Review


“Clare Barron’s sometimes hilarious, often bracing meditation on pre-adolescence...The award-winning playwright’s brilliant conceit, brought to full-bodied life by director/choreographer Evans, is to have these young ladies portrayed by actresses ranging from their 20s to their 60s...All of the girls are equally well-drawn...Conversely, Barron is slightly less successful with her other (admittedly more minor) characters, especially the two men in the play.” Full Review


“No play on the NY boards is fiercer or more original...A good deal more than it seems at first blush, largely because Barron dares to use nonconventional casting...Beyond the blood and gore, there are tender moments...There's much to enjoy in the ensemble acting...’Dance Nation’ escapes feeling like already explored territory. This is theater given a fresh edge and feeling. For the most part it works well enough to make it worth seeing.” Full Review

New York Stage Review

“Perhaps the blazing highlight of this quirky, frequently compelling play is an extraordinary monologue by Ashlee...Evans’s staging unobtrusively and smoothly melds the play’s innumerable shifts in tone. The ensemble easily performs the sudden emotional leaps and fouettes that the playwright demands from them...I’ll bet that plenty of women will recognize their younger selves and their anxieties from those youthful times whirling around within Barron’s unusually intense sweet and sour drama." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

"Gritty language, situations, and brief but total nudity might deter some parents from taking their own 13-year-olds to see it. Given its stark candor, and its focus on emergent female empowerment, however, they may find the play's depiction of the kids' concerns both bracing and enlightening…'Dance Nation''s combination of realism and surrealism, satire and polemic, may not be to everybody's taste. I thought much of its humor unfunny, its structure clumsy, and its eccentric style…off-putting." Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

"Under Lee Sunday Evans’ crisp direction, with her alluring choreography, and with the care of the all-female production team, the cast delivers authentic performances...It is best for the intensity and the diction of this chorus to be experienced firsthand by the audience. Some might find the tone exhilarating while some might find the rant a tad impolite. Either way, the performance is powerful and authentic and represents the beginning of the evolution into adulthood." Full Review

Daily Beast

"The play’s refreshingly confrontational feminism is underlined by the occasional, gliding presence of the moon, the female principle itself...Retreats from too much animosity and burrows instead into hearts and minds and ultimately provides individual portraits of the girls, and a picture of group dynamics that feel very real, if a little plodding and predictable. The presence of a boy remains a mystery throughout, but it’s heartening to hear him and Pat loudly voice their female allyship.” Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"What seems at first like a cutesy affectation soon comes across as the only sensible way of presenting a play about young people that includes nudity and frank discussions of puberty and sexuality...The director's skill with the material is especially fortunate, since the script has it ragged moments and dead ends, as well bits of humor that don't quite land...The cast is totally on their playwright's wavelength." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

“It takes off regularly for the melodramatic and fanciful. Unfortunately, its flights don’t always land smoothly...Where ‘Dance Nation’ gets into trouble is when it has its characters wax anthemic...Evans is right in tune with the play’s humor...Evans is wise to tread lightly, not pandering to the easy laugh...'Dance Nation' intrigues with its probing into the heads of putative thirteen-year-olds sitting atop older bodies. But when it takes itself too seriously, it quickly loses its charm.” Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

“Zuzu forgets her steps and freezes at a competition, setting up all kinds of trust and self-image conflicts that lack payoff. It's that kind of sloppiness that bothers me, along with the too-in-your-face sexuality...That said, Barron and Evans do conjure up some convincing moments...Barron has provocative things to say about how society turns many kids' formative years into nightmares...But teen bonding, peer shaming, and authority-figure bullying? You'll have a better time at 'Mean Girls.'" Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

“Explores the adolescence of girls and one boy...However as a woman, I was lost in translation...The acting is well done...Evans’s direction, keeps this piece moving and her choreography is perfectly awful...A lot of laughter by men and not so much by women. Maybe that is because we really do not want to relive this...‘Dance Nation’ felt like sabotage, since this is written by a women, but who is it for?” Full Review

New York Daily News

“Fearless and funny but frustrating...Avoids the typical pitfalls when adult actors play pre-teens...The work is bold, with ample profanity and flashes of nudity. But it trips up because it's too freewheeling for its own good...Subjects are raised and quickly abandoned. The tone shifts willy nilly...It's okay for a play to be messy, but Barron's work self-sabotages...Despite flaws, the show is uniformly terrifically acted...Most effective and eloquent when it's silent.” Full Review

Exeunt Magazine

"The little moments where 'Dance Nation' captures adolescence beautifully are strong and achingly poignant...But the play doesn’t succeed in either striking an emotionally realistic tone or using its stylization to generate insight, and the characters didn’t feel whole to me. And for a play about power and competition, it often feels physically timid; I wish Barron and Evans had found a more compelling way to stage the compelling questions 'Dance Nation' raises." Full Review


“An unsatisfying synthesis of satire, allegory and feminism...More of an agenda driven fantastical tract rather than a well-crafted play...Evans faithfully presents Barron’s alienating vision with flair...The talented, likeable and distinctive company all offer vigorous characterizations...'Dance Moms' might appear to have been an inspiration...The simple themes of that program here have been forcefully infused with sociological trimmings and activist sensibilities for little theatrical impact.” Full Review

Absorbing, Must see, Resonant, Great writing, Hilarious

See it if you live for Dance Moms drama or want to see a hilarious and relevant new play by a female playwright about women.

Don't see it if you're uncomfortable with discussions of bodies and all the things that preteen girls go through.

Clever, Intelligent, Quirky, Hilarious

See it if You’d enjoy an insightful satire of Dance Moms exploring girls finding themselves & their power through dance.

Don't see it if Nudity, rough language, natural body functions, etc. bother you. Also girls played by women of all ages, except teen. Dance Moms on steroids

Surreal, Hilarious, Stylized, True, Fiendishly smart

See it if you want a palate cleanser after all the Broadway (and Off Broadway) schlock that's been shoved down your throat recently

Don't see it if You hate vaginas. This play is about vaginas, and periods, and bodies, and dreams, and how we treat them. And it's GLORIOUS.

Clever, Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant, Hilarious

See it if you have an arts background, you like kids, you're young at heart, you're willing to be challenged at the theatre

Don't see it if you are averse to coarse language, or if you are expecting a piece of fluff, it's really fun - but it's also quite profound - I loved it

Ambitious, Great acting, Relevant, Resonant, Great writing

See it if If you want to see the play that is the most of this moment.

Don't see it if You're not into women as they actually are, rather than as you want them to be.

Also Like I stated above, when someone asks me what the socio-cultural temp... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Dizzying, Refreshing, Resonant

See it if you want to see something by turns shocking, funny, disconcerting, sad, challenging, hopeful and much more.

Don't see it if you're want something a little more coherent. Despite the simple plot this is a big, sprawling show that succeeds despite many failings.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if You are interested in women and women’s place in the world. You like abstract plays.

Don't see it if If subtlety is your thing.

Ambitious, Raunchy, Relevant, Resonant, Transgressive

See it if You want to see the David Mamet of young female playwrights. Coming of age story that says things and goes places others won't.

Don't see it if You need everything to work. She sets a high bar, daring to address serious issues that should be aired. OK, it isn't perfect.

Absorbing, Edgy, Intense, Thought-provoking, Entertaining

See it if If you think and enjoy theatre that is outside the box. The casting is perfect, genius, assists the playwritings purpose.

Don't see it if If you do not want to see nuidity, do not like blod or grafic visuals of blood. Although these choices are powerful and purposeful.

Ambitious, Clever, Refreshing, Relevant, Entertaining

See it if you like new plays that are unique while still following a traditional story line. Message came through without preaching to the audience.

Don't see it if you don't care about 13 yr old girls and woman's issues in general.

Funny, Ambitious, Edgy, Thought-provoking, Refreshing

See it if you like to open your mind to creative and challenging “weird” theater as well as moments of shock related to violence, sex, bodies, etc.

Don't see it if you want a traditional play and can’t “go” along with actors of all ages playing 13. Or if offended by edgy, envelope-pushing theater.

Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Refreshing, Great staging

See it if See a show about pre-teens that one doesn't normally see - intense, brutal, and wistful.

Don't see it if Not for everyone - some audience members just didn't get it - too honest for some.

Ambitious, Clever, Edgy, Indulgent

See it if Coming of age of a group of 13 year old girls portrayed by grownups. Some funny and clever moments but a little too far out for my

Don't see it if You are offended by nudity, foul language and female body parts. This show is def not for everyone!

Ambitious, Delightful, Refreshing, Resonant

See it if You would enjoy a funny, honest show about the melodrama of being a pre-teen and the relationship between who we were and who we are

Don't see it if You don't want to see adults playing the roles of pre-teens


See it if A play that utilizes a talented ensemble. And at times can be very funny.

Don't see it if You don’t like “outside the box” casting and structure.

Also The scenes in the dance rehearsals/competitions work best. When the pl... Read more Read less


See it if Very clever approach to the subject. You will like if you like stories about growing up.

Don't see it if Not a great story line. Acting mediocre.

Great acting, Banal, Disappointing, Cliched, Odd

See it if you enjoy new plays and support new female writers, interested in concerns of young teens, enjoy innovative casting & unusual digressions

Don't see it if you don't like female nudity on stage, young teens played by much older women, linear plots interspersed with odd musical numbers

Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Overrated

See it if see more

Don't see it if see more

Also a new look at young teenage problems but solutions seem to be missing.... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Great acting, Intelligent, Disappointing, Overrated

See it if You want to see an ambitious, well-written play that touches on issues too often unaddressed

Don't see it if You expect a more complete play - a lot of ideas that were briefly raised didn’t seem to be fully realized

Edgy, Quirky, Confusing, Disappointing, Slow

See it if You like new plays that are somewhat experimental and try to combine different styles of playwriting and performance.

Don't see it if You dislike plays that are “all over the place” and seem to be hunting for a style that they never really find.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Confusing

See it if Explores the way teenage dramas can inform our lives for good. Good character study.

Don't see it if I found the choice to have the girls played by grown women puzzling. The author’s note explaining why she did this did not ring true.

Funny, Ambitious, Edgy, Quirky, Disappointing

See it if You like non traditional plays that attempt to address issues of feminism and adolescent development

Don't see it if You want naturalism and resolution . ..and object to unnecessary nudity and uncomfortable language

Edgy, Indulgent, Disappointing, Cliched, Slow

See it if the idea of adolescent girls being played by older actresses appeals to you. An interesting concept that soon wears thin.

Don't see it if you find female nudity on the stage off-putting.

Also The play is slow with pauses so long you begin to lose hope that anoth... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Quirky, Slow

See it if you are interested in the experiences of female adolescents

Don't see it if you expect the conflict between characters to be resolved. By the end, I was bored.

Banal, Disappointing, Dull

See it if you are a dancer and want to relive the delights of being 13. Not!!Play rarely soars.It has a lot of promise but doesn't deliver.

Don't see it if you are tired of gimmicks--older actresses playing 12-13 year olds; gratuitous and distracting nudity.It has something to say,but fumbles it

Cast & Creatives (16)