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Celebrate Dance 2011 – A review

March 20, 2011

Kudos to the illustrious Jamie Nichols for a phenomenal show at Celebrate Dance 2011! A well woven parade of dance companies and pieces made for a delightful evening out at the Alex Theater and a wish for more show dates so that an even greater audience could take in this extraordinary experience. Eight dance companies executed a mix of contemporary works range from duets to full company pieces, centered on a theme of relationships. Exquisite performances were had by all and I would be hard pressed to pick a favorite for the evening.

Photo by Tim Agler - 2011 Copyright

The pre-event reception afforded me the opportunity to speak firsthand with several of the choreographers, fellow dancers and sponsors, whom I found to be a most engaging and lively group of people. I could have easily have chatted the evening away with several of them, but the lure of watching the show, of course, tempted us away from any chance of that. Ms. Nichols proved a gracious hostess and I am all the more thankful that I had the good fortune to meet her last year at the Horton Awards.

On to the show… With so many pieces I would be hard pressed to do an in-depth review of every company, but here are a few of my impressions and thoughts on the pieces presented.

Emoticons (Regina Klenjoski Dance Company) – A piece designed to draw upon the metaphor of connections through technology mostly hit the mark. Watching the grey costumes I was brought to the dual images of butterflies made of steel and what a stack of nuts and bolts might look like in a blender. Particularly impressive were the group dynamics which perfectly complimented the punctuated choreography. http://www.rkdc.org/

Everybody Knows (Malashock Dance) – A delightful duet combined lifts and partnering work while interpreting a somewhat wry song about relationships. The movements flowed masterfully to the lyrics as evidenced by the audience laughter and applause to the athletic jumps. The seamless performance and outstanding choreography is a testament to Malashock Dance. http://www.malashockdance.org/

The Space Between, Before and After (Deborah Rosen and Dancers) – A flowy contemporary piece that created beautiful snapshot moments within the choreography. At first the choreography struck me as disjointed, until I changed my perspective and began to view each dancer as its own organism and personality communicating with the others. It was then the brilliance of this choreography truly jumped out and I was left in awe of its complexity and subtlety. http://www.youtube.com/user/debdancerr

Deborah Rosen and Dancers (Photo by Tim Agler - 2011 Copyright)

Unoccupied (BARE Dance Company) – A whimsical and fun twist brings this lively choreography to a start (I won’t spoil the surprise). With playful group dynamics, a story of awkward relationships and humor unfolds masterfully with this talented group of dancers. Overall a finely tuned and enjoyable piece which makes me wonder what else the company is capable of. http://www.baredanceco.com/

BARE Dance Company (Photo by Tim Agler - 2011 Copyright)

Twist of Fate (Visions Dance Theatre) – A striking piece that played around a central duet that interacted with and “controlled” the remaining dancers. It told an intriguing story of free will and had well-crafted holds and movements that unfolded to seamlessly and left the audience to wonder how much of what we do in relationships is of our own choosing. http://www.macarenajazzdance.com/3422.html

Tethered (Malashock Dance) – A stunning duet which showcased the amazing strength of the dancers in a series of lifts and holds. The choreography was otherwise simple and had a straight forward narrative of a couple, with a humorous twist at the end. While fantastically executed, I found I enjoyed Malashock’s “Everybody Knows” more enjoyable to watch with its emphasis on dancing over pure strength. http://www.malashockdance.org/

Beyond the Edge (Monat Dance) – After a sea of flexed feet, angular lines and ever-present floor work, the modern ballet of Beyond the Edge was a refreshing change of pace. Beautiful lines on pointe and deep inspiration from classical ballet lent to elegant and challenging choreography. The only thing missing was a consistent emotiveness across the dancers (some seemed permanently happy, while others neutral in their expression). Add that to the performance and it would be perfection. http://www.monatdance.com/

Threshold (Terri Best Dance) – An ethereal duet best described as two lovers meeting across time and space in a lucid dream. The dancers moved between perfect synchronicity and a conversational exchange of movements that portrayed a deep emotiveness. It was a beautifully executed and stirring piece that left me wanting more. http://www.danceplug.com/terri-best

Terri Best Dance (Photo by Tim Agler - 2011 Copyright)

Prize (Creative Outlook Dance Theater of Brooklyn) – In a departure from the rest of the show, this piece used a collection of clips from speeches by President Obama as a backdrop to its powerful and expressive choreography. The dancers were true masters and it would be difficult not to be moved by the precise interpretation of the words and stories told. The smallest of nitpicks is that in using President Obama’s voice, I found myself distracted at times by him speaking, when I would have liked to have been focused purely on the extraordinary beauty of the dancing and the dancers themselves. http://www.creativeoutletdance.org/

Overall, a loud round of applause should go to each and every choreographer and their dancers. The show truly was engaging and beautiful and showcased much of the amazing talent out there which rarely is in the big spotlights. If ever you have the opportunity, check out and support these companies so we can help keep the dance community vibrant and thriving.

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