Category: Press

Review | Wylliams/Henry kicking it up a notch (KCMetropolis.org)

University of Missouri-Kansas City’s outdoor scene was bustling last Friday night, as was the arts landscape in general, but devoted dance enthusiasts could be found scattered throughout the White Recital Hall for Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company’s spring performance. The company closed their 23rd season celebrating the past and looking toward the future. Works by two well-known choreographers, Fred Benjamin and Eleo Pomare, bookended the seven-piece program.

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High Praise for Wylliams/Henry!!! (Best of Dance 2012-2013)

Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company, Fall Program: Despite being one of the first performances last season, WHCDC left a mark with its 21st fall program. The program blended together past favorites from co-founders Leni Wylliams and Mary Pat Henry as well as new works for the company and an astonishing execution of Martha Graham’s Diversion of Angels. By far this was one of the strongest showings for the company in recent years. (September 2012)

KC Magazine – One, Two, Three, Four, Dance

“One, Two, Three, Four, Dance” will showcase new and signature dance pieces ranging from modern to lyric to avante garde in style. Although Wylliams-Henry Dance is known for big ensemble works, this concert will focus on smaller groups and individuals performing choreographed pieces. The variety of performances is designed to display the quality and artistry of the individual dancers as well as the choreographers, with performances creating a sense of intimacy between the dancers and members of the audience.

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Dance Professor Mary Pat Henry to Teach in China

Mary Pat Henry, Conservatory Professor of Dance and Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs, travels to China for a six week residency to teach and choreograph in Tianjin. She will also participate in the Luoyang Peony Cultural Festival, Henan province, conducting workshops, giving lectures, and teaching technique classes.

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KCLive TV Interview @ YouTube

Mary Pat Henry/co-founder and Artistic Director of Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company talks about their Fall Concert and why dance is so important. The concert is Friday, September 15, 7:30 p.m. & Saturday, September 16, – 6:00 p.m. UMKC, White Hall, 4949 Cherry Street, KCMO, on Campus.

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.