Thursday, April 11, 2013

Rogue Review for ACDFA Informal Concert #2

If the first "Informal" concert didn't kick my butt, then this one certainly did!

It is so exciting to see such variety in the informal concerts.  I think the fact that these pieces are not being "adjudicated" allows the choreographers and dancers to put themselves out there with no inhibition. The audience sees that. And, appreciates it deeply.  The concepts are at times risky or nontraditional, but this is exactly what makes it great.  Tomorrow begins the Formal Adjudication process. (Not my underground rogue style), so we shall see just how the two forums compare. 

Anywho. . .  Let's talk Informal #2

Moorpark College performed Something to Say, a piece I choreographed in collaboration with the dancers. . . so I can't really review that because. . . I made it.  So moving on to the second dance. . .

Cal Poly Pomona brought a solo work performed and choreographed by Jennifer Gerry entitled Cultivation of Thought.  The beautiful dancer performed with rich generosity and captivating strength and flow.  Wearing her hair down allowed her to hide and reveal her face as part of the choreography. In a way, I felt like her hair was an idea of itself coming to fruition.  What drew me to her movement was the balance of her impressive kinetic flow and her use of gesture that was light and bound (sort of dabbing through the space in a gentle and easy way).  My one question was why she finished on the floor with her face covered with her hair?  I ask not because I didn't like the ending, but because this was the question that resonated with me as the piece ended, making me wonder did her idea overtake her?

Line Ballet/ Dominican University showed their flirty ballet best in Elisabeth Schiffbauer's Confrontation.  Set to music of Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer this ensemble of women demonstrated the flirty power of feminine allure.  The performers' strength lies in their extension, balance and uplift.  The thumbprint of ballet training. The quirky more grounded movements, charmed the audience in comparison, but underscored the difference between the use of gravity in modern and ballet technique. What didn't read was the nature of the confrontation in the title. Although I am not necessarily one for 'tricks,' the one dancer's triple pirouette into a second triple pirouette (as perfectly timed with the music) was stellar. 

José Costas from Orange Coast College presented his duet called (wait for it. . . ) Duet! This piece was a study in romantic partnering. The dancers were beautiful and embodied the sensibility of this type of piece very well.  The black clad male and white clad female formed a traditional image of yin and yang that draws so many people to dance.  As I was watching I was reminded of the love duets danced in the old Hollywood movies.  I was swept away with visions of Cyd Charisse and Gene Kelly.  Simple. Lovely. 

Repercussions was choreographed by Santa Monica College student Glenjamin Rodriguez.  This small ensemble work was reflective of the first heavy romantic break up we have all had to endure.  The piece was for this student what dance is for so many college students, a venue to reflect on life and learning.  Sorting out the trials of discovering our paths as individuals is tough, and dance offers a forum for dancers and choreographers to delve into the meaning behind their lives, the feelings, sensations, unspoken experiences and cellular memories.  I could tell this work was about the choreographers process and personal growth, and in that it was a sure success.

University of Oregon captivated the audience with a Graduate student work, Limbs, by Taylor Theis.  This piece more than any others so far was an example of patience in dance composition. I loved that the choreographer allowed visual space and time for the audience to really listen to the words of the text that opened the piece.  The male-female duet was extremely well balanced, showing the melding of two bodies that seemed made to fit together without one dominating the other.  The play on words of limbs of a tree and limb of the body was delicately carried through the work which included a pallette of contemporary modern dance flavored movements.  I wondered how much this choreographer has worked with Laban's Movement Analysis because this piece would be a excellent study in the variety of dynamics, shapes and effort qualities because each moment was clear and honest in its execution of the movement concept. 

Santa Ana presented Daylight Ends choreographed and performed by Samuel DeAngelo.  This artist was clearly highly skilled and trained in contemporary jazz dance technique, but his work was framed with modern dance sensibilities that balanced the dramatic energy and virtuosic moments.  This piece had a lot of ideas, and most of my favorites were presented once and then left alone. I was curious about this choice of including so many movement ideas in one piece.  I was wondering also what it might be like to grow the gestural movement into the exquisite technical moments so they became one and the same.  The dancer was extremely impressive in his strength, flexibility and performance energy (I was glad to see him come back to the stage for Mad Men later in the concert). 

CSU Long Beach students Heather Glabe and Jeremy Hahn had the audience in stitches over their White Washed Deathscape: Vol 3.  This was one funny number.  A parody on action films and romantic/comedy/actions films, these dancers were clearly well trained in traditional concert dance technique, but they were not afraid to toss it all away for the sake of a good chuckle. And, for that I applaud them.  My favorite part?  When they pull out each others eye balls, put them in their own and continue dancing.  Not just any dance could stand that sort of wild innovation. Before the piece started I leaned into my neighbor and said (not just a little sarcastically) "Oh good, Air on a G String!  No dance festival is complete without it."  I was ready to take this dance seriously, until it totally proved me, right!  And ending in the pieta?... priceless.

Mad Men was an all male piece choreographed by Kari Jensen of Santa Ana College.  I think every male dancer should have a chance to dance in an all male piece.  I mean, all girl pieces are a dime a dozen, but all men pieces are still something to behold. They are a treasure to be enjoyed.  This one as expected played to natural strengths of the male performers including lots of athleticism and power in  the choreography.  I enjoyed the use of the show Mad Men as a launching point but the choreographer's choice to go beyond the show and play with the more universal story of this era.  (This was confirmed in the post show discussion-- and I felt so smart for getting it first! Yeah me!) The challenge of this type of work is the challenge for these young men to play mature adult men.  Although their focused wavered occasionally, I was overall very impressed with their abilities not only to dance like men but speak like men as well. 

The final piece of the evening brought the house down!  Loyola Marymount University showed a piece that I can't BELIEVE was not selected by the school for the formal Adjudication concert, Trigger (or 9 Too Many).  This student choreographed, female duet was sexy, strong and exquisitely performed.  The piece occurred around a folding table and the dancers faced off across it with a vehemence that not many dancers can physically portray.  The simple moments of spinal articulation will perhaps forever resonate in my mind's eye.  The curl of the pelvis through the setting of the scapula.  What I didn't understand from the piece was the reference to gun control that the dancer referred to in the talk back after.  Perhaps this was due to having just seen the action-comedy piece from CSULB. The gun references just seemed to be an appropriate extension of the dancers' anger toward each other.  But, despite my missed mark in terms of meaning, I was satisfied because the commitment and physical performance let me know that whatever they were fighting about was important. 

Well, that's it for today! Whew! Two reviews in one day for me!  That is a new one.  Please share your thoughts as well!  Did you see the concert? What were your reactions? Share your feedback in the comment box below!

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  1. Yes I saw this concert and I really like her movement was the balance of her impressive kinetic flow and her use of gesture that was light and bound (sort of dabbing through the space in a gentle and easy way). Thanks for sharing your review with us.

  2. Hi Beth,
    Jessica Kondrath shared this post with me. I wish that I known about our UCSB connection sooner so that we could have chatted amidst the ACDFA chaos! In any case, I appreciated your writings on Deathscapes. I also wanted to share that your students were particularly transformed by their performance experience. They were inspiring to watch as they came offstage! Keep up the good work.
    It seems inappropriate to sign off a "comment" like a letter, but sending general love and gratitude, Heather.

  3. Hi Beth, I was wondering if you could tell me the names of the Loyola girls that choreographed the Trigger (or 9 too many) piece?