News

Celebrating 20 years with forward-looking WHCDC

By Laura Vernaci   Tue, May 17, 2011 (source)

Commemorating the company’s success and talent was an intimate crowd of devoted fans, family and friends. The program consisted of eight works and represented a diverse collection of choreographers and dance styles.

Starting off the show on a good note was Assistant Director Paula Weber’s Blue. The piece began in silence and darkness with the dancers gradually beginning to dance as the lights slowly brightened and the first notes of Beethoven’s breathtaking composition began to resonate throughout the quiet theatre. As always, Weber’s classically-based choreography was organic and engaging throughout.

… Erik Sobbe and newcomer Ashia Myers displayed controlled grace; Brittany Duskin and Michael Tomlinson moved very similarly with commitment and excitement; and DeeAnna Hiett and Gavin Stewart proved a strong partnership with the ability to cover the stage. The simple, elegant costumes designed by Weber and constructed by Laura Powell, brought all of the elements together.

Switching gears, Hiett joined three tall, commanding men in her work Passage. The tribal-themed act combined modern dance with African-inspired movement. …

Sobbe and Tomlinson reprised Ladder Time, which was a focal piece of the company’s “On the Edge” performance last season. Moving on, under and around a very stably constructed ladder, the two men demonstrated great strength, balance, and flexibility as they perfectly positioned themselves to construct picture-worthy moments.

Mary Pat HenryArtistic Director Mary Pat Henry dedicated her first work of the night, Esperando Nin Silencio, to the Argentinian mothers who silently lamented as their families were torn apart and brutally destroyed. The five women tragically relived the event, moving with passion and desperation.

The longest piece was Sean Curran’s Symbolic Logic II, which began with dancers rigidly poised center stage conducting a series of arm movements to Sheila Chandra’s hypnotizing chants. Curran’s innovative choreography had a modern base, integrated with several types of stylistic folk dancing. … Myers’ showed off in a humble spotlight solo as the rest of the dancers paced in the dimly lit background. Duskin also stood out, especially in her quartet with three men. The dancers finally came together in the last section, successfully gaining momentum and executing Curran’s eccentricities which complimented the accents in Chandra’s Speaking in Tongues.

Anna Sokolow’s Session For Six was broken into two distinct sections. … The second half was lighter and carefree with more quirky choreography. The costumes were strikingly similar to Piet Mondrian’s painting, “Broadway Boogie Woogie,” which was Sokolow’s inspiration…

Robert Battle’s riveting work Unfold featured Hiett and Nijawwon Matthews. The pair carelessly threw themselves onto each other and the floor, thrashing backwards and slowly giving in. Battle, who will succeed Judith Jamison in July 2011 as the artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, created a powerful vision combining agitated, passionate choreography with the calm, controlled excerpt from Gustave Charpentier’s “Depuis Le Jour” from his opera Louise.

The last selection of the evening, Ferment, was commissioned by the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in honor of Roxy Paine’s sculpture by the same name. Mary Pat Henry did a remarkable job transforming the visual art into a performing art through lighting, costumes, projection, music, and, of course, dancing. The nine dancers created long lines and novel pictures that mirrored the sculpture, twice in whole and other times in part. Though all the artists performed well, the men captured the attention with their bounding leaps and beautiful strength.

Several of the selections outshone the rest, but in the end the audience was left with great memories of the past and much to look forward to in the future of the company.