REACH FOR THE SKY
As someone who rarely attends the theater, I found this year’s Dance Collective so enjoyable that I attended all three nights of the show.
While there were some uneven performances, for the most part the numbers were engaging, energetic and, despite whatever technical flaws were present, the dancers more than compensated for with the heart put into the performances.
Certainly, the most polished performance was given by Alex Gabrielli and Jenna Sessions in Gabrelli’s self-choreographed performance “In Infinitum.” A very smooth performance was also given by Andrea Marian in her self-choreographed piece “Endless Struggle,” although the somberness of Beethoven lent a melancholy note to an otherwise upbeat evening.
Kathryn Totheroh choreographed and danced an edgy and sexy role as the ill-used woman in “Not Again,” but the impact of her performance was diminished by the sheer size of the stage. Perhaps she would have been better served by stronger lighting direction.
Without question however the most “pumped up” self-choreographed performance was given by Mychal Gabb with his performance of “Mama’s Boy.” I have never been a fan of hip-hop or Kanye West, but Gabb’s performance, with his ingenious use of a single stage prop and a video slide presentation, translated the song’s lyrics in a way impossible for video or radio. Nor will I soon forget his Saturday night performance, when his mother was front row center and you could see, feel and almost touch the love that he showed for her. The image of them embracing at the end of his performance will stay etched in my memory.
Most of the ensemble performances were very strong. The opening number “Caught in a Dream” was both sensual and ethereal, truly a dream that you would not wish to awake from. “Re-Turn” was an ambitious undertaking, perhaps a little too much so, because the “sync” just wasn’t there for me. I also think the decision to play a soundtrack while the dancers tapped was ill-advised. Tap itself is the music and that got lost.
“Unity” was simply beautiful. The choreography, costumes and lighting combined to remind us of the promise of the 60s and, despite our failure to live up to that promise, our children still carry the seeds of hope. The performance “Jungle Madness” was sensual, provocative and compelling. It was an almost jarring reminder that underneath our designer clothes we are still lusty animals.
In my opinion, “Flowmatic” also suffered from a little too much ambition. I admit that I have a bias against hip-hop, but I can appreciate the energy and skill that this dance technique takes, but I found it to be repetitive and a few minutes too long. Both “Reflection” and “Glow” were similar in their gentleness and visual beauty and the execution of the dancers flowed smoothly and soothingly, especially after the provocation of the earlier numbers.
The two large ensemble presentations, “Can’t Stop the Beat” and “Bringing it Back” brought feelings of nostalgia back to the present. The energy of both was high, you could tell the cast was having fun and that communicated itself to the audience clearly.
I thought this was great entertainment. I didn’t expect perfection, but I did expect heart, energy and enthusiasm, and I was well compensated on all counts.
TOGETHER AS ONE
SOAR THROUGH THE AIR