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Louise Reichlin & Dancers – “Baggage”

July 5, 2011

Recently I had the opportunity to enjoy a show by Louise Reichlin and Dancers. The showed, called “Baggage”, a theme in progress, consisted of three dances pieces plus a short film interspersed with dance which chronicled the self-dubbed “Tap Dance Widows Club.” Performed at the Miles Memorial Playhouse in Santa Monica, an intimate venue, I sat close at hand with Louise Reichlin herself to take in the show.

Mourning Light - Photo credit: Paul Wasserman, Dancers: Zsolt Banki and Brittany Midiri

Four dance pieces were presented, two newer dances and two revived pieces for her project that served as a dedication and remembrance of her late husband, tap dancer Alfred Desio. Each of the pieces was designed to evoke the feelings and reflections she had of her spouse. Mourning Light served as an introduction and showcased her dancers’ talents well. Women Sleeping was pulled together from choreographer originally done nearly 30 years earlier. Despite the scratchy music of an old recording in Women Sleeping, the blending of modern themes and folk-inspired movement made for an enjoyable blend of styles not often seen. Remembrance used a backdrop of pictures sent in through a Facebook project, dedicated to others who had passed by those who sought to remember.

The crowning piece, Tap Dance Widows Club, was a video conversation of three women, all widows of well-known tap dancers, reminiscing about earlier times and the lives of their husbands – Alfred Desio, Jon Zerby and Fayard Nicholas. The video intersected the conversation with videos of each of the men dancing, and was complimented itself by live dancers reflecting themes shown within the presentation. While I enjoyed the video itself, I was left wondering if the live dancing was a necessary addition and felt it did not greatly increase the impact. I would have been content to have just watched the film and the earlier live dance pieces. I did find the insight into the history of these tap legends educational and entertaining. Too often dancers of the past get forgotten by younger generations, who miss the history of where the dance styles they learn now have come from. I would love to see greater exposure for that past come into the present and to the newer generations who take the dance torch forward.

For more information about Louise Reichlin and Dancers, please visit: http://www.lachoreographersanddancers.org/LAChoreographersAndDancers.org/index.html

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