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Piece of Cake 

Plan to skip dessert before attending Zoetic Dance Ensemble's current show. The show is called CAKE, and yes, dancers serve cake from an EZ-Bake Oven and dance with it in short transition pieces between the evening's major works.

If that's not enough of a glucose spike, they'll also be selling gobs of frosting on a spoon. "Anything to get people happy before they watch modern dance," says Zoetic co-director Melanie Lynch-Blanchard.

We could debate all night long about which Atlanta dance company has the most erudite choreography, elegant presentation, or revolutionary political sensibility. But hands down, Zoetic Dance Ensemble is the most fun. In past shows, the ensemble has offered up Slip 'n Slides, water guns, Halloween candy and other refreshments that funding agencies might not approve.

It's not just the sugar highs, either. These women can dance. And, while Zoetic always produces phenomenally athletic dancers, CAKE marks a notable maturing in choreography, which includes two guest choreographers, Gary Abbott and Kelly Hayes.

Abbott, an Atlanta native who now co-directs Chicago's Deeply Rooted Productions, created "Hand to Mouth," the evening's featured work. Drawing heavily on the movement dancers can create with contractions centered in the abdomen, the piece suggests a community coming together to get through an empty-bellied struggle, communicating through gestures and echoed movements.

Hayes reset her 1999 solo "Slip" on Zoetic's Ellen Tshudy, who powers through the frantic muscular movement with hardly a moment of equilibrium in which to find her footing.

The show also revisits Lynch-Blanchard's award-winning "Flying by Fixes" and a performance of co-director Candess Giyan-Maldonado's "Transcend," a bouncy, hip-shaking piece about "growing up in spite of predestination," she says.

Maybe I've just got pastries on the brain, but check out the skirts the dancers wear in the latter piece. They look like towering layer cakes.

Zoetic Dance Ensemble presents CAKE May 6-14 at Nickel & Dime Studios, 106 N. Avondale Road. $15 ("Pay what you can" on May 9). May 6, 7, 9, 13 at 8 p.m.; May 8 at 5 p.m.; May 14 at 10 p.m. 678-966-0253.

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