With ‘The Forgotten,’ Leverage Dance Theater Offers an Avant-Garde Alternative to the Haunted House

 In Culture, Event

For those who love the spooky and eerie side of Halloween, but not necessarily the gore and jump scares of a haunted house, you can still get your fear fix without chainsaw killers and zombies breathing down your neck.

This October, get ready for the return of “The Forgotten.” After a sold out-run in 2018, Leverage Dance Theater is once again staging its Halloween-inspired immersive dance experience with even more surprises and frights to thrill both dance-lovers and horror fans alike.

In the grand tradition of haunted houses, “The Forgotten” offers the audience a supporting role in the show. As guests make their way through the hallways, stairwells and mazes of Intersect Arts Center just south of Cherokee Street, they’ll stumble upon performances by Leverage contemporary dance artists who have broken free from the confines of the stage, setting off the adrenaline surge that comes with not knowing who—or what—lurks behind every corner.

“We want the audience to go on an adventure with us—to feel like they don’t know what’s coming for them, and they don’t know where they’re going,” says Diana Barrios, artistic director of Leverage. “This isn’t a show where you just sit back and take in what’s presented to you.”

Bringing performances like “The Forgotten” outside of the theater and into nontraditional and unexpected environments has given Leverage the opportunity to break down barriers between audience and artist. All of its shows are site-specific, and the connection it has made with patrons in terms of interaction and intimacy makes it truly stand out from other companies.

“One of the big things that we’re trying to accomplish at Leverage is to make theater more comfortable for people,” explains assistant director Keli Brook Hermes. “We know sometimes fine art can be intimidating—and performance art can be especially intimidating. People sometimes feel when they go to a theater, it’s ‘them versus us.’ Providing dance in places that they’re already familiar with helps them find dance more relatable—they no longer feel they’re in this foreign situation.”

That mission has not only made “The Forgotten” a must-do for the Halloween-obsessed, but it also helps the dance-wary ease into the role of performing arts fan.

“We had an audience member last year who just loves haunted houses,” says Barrios. “She wasn’t a dance person, and she wasn’t interested in coming to a dance show—she was pretty much dragged here by a friend. But she ended up loving it! There are always people who are interested in dance, but they’re not sure they’ll like it. ‘The Forgotten’ makes dance more approachable. If you like haunted houses, you know you’re going to be at least halfway happy with the experience—you’re only taking half a risk. But people end up really enjoying it and want to keep coming back.”

Due to the nature of the show, it is rated PG-13. However, Leverage will host an all-ages show at the 7 p.m. performance on Nov. 2 by turning down the scares and music while turning up the lights, making it more inviting to patrons with younger children or those who have sensory sensitivities.

“The Forgotten” runs Oct. 24-26 and Oct. 31-Nov. 2, with performances at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Tickets are $20 for seniors, students and artists, $25 for general admission, and $30 at the door. Audience members are encouraged to dress in theme, preferably in black, dark or decaying.

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