By Walter Rutledge
Forces of Nature lived up to its name with the solo From the Mud Below. The work explored the relationship of man, nature and mythology. Choreographer Abdel R. Salaam understands that primal has a sense of humor, and so did the audience. The choreographer metaphorically placed us in an evolution that celebrates the origins of life in a perfect green environment.
Christina Ferraro WAS the role. Her evolution left the audience spellbound. Ferraro’s lithe and pliant body created the choreographer’s illusions/transformations.
There were parallel grooves in Paz Tanjuaquio work Parallel Groove. The stunning accuracy of her dancing with her projected image was hypnotic. Although her movement emanated from her upper torso and arms, it was the way she framed her head that drew your attention to her upper torso.
Delirious Dances presented Manufacturing Consent, a dance with a brilliant human study. The first section explained the concept. The movement had a very proletariat feeling of solidarity. With the assistance of lighting that defined the boundaries of the stage into a large square choreographer Edisa Weeks imprisoned the dancers. It was an iron curtain, a Berlin Wall or Madison Avenue via the Pentagon.
Then the experiment began the dancers went into the house and brought six audience members on stage. The audience members were placed in chairs, which faced upstage with a box small metal box place behind each chair. The pursuing encounter tested the theories proposed in the first section of manipulation of the masses. The work was immediately engaging, and subtle. It also subliminally manipulated the audience as well.
The pulsing lights and driving club beat of French Kiss, a solo choreographed by Nicholas Leichter, recalled another era. Bryan Strimpel performances mended dance hall moves with other forms to the delight of the audience. It was followed by a duet set to Donna Summer’s rendition of The Way We Were
Leitcher presented this excerpt from his work in progress as a traditional concert dance with performers on stage and the audience safe in the dark in front of the proscenium arch. The completed work entitled Black Barbara will be part performance, and part performance art. The work will give the audience the option of dancing with the performers and requesting music from the onstage disk jockey. We look forward to seeing the completed later this year.
Germaul Barnes, one of the five commissioned choreographers, presented When The Brook Meets The River- Remixed. The large ensemble work was aided by music by Karl Jenkins and the text written Patricia Russell-McCloud, which was recited by Lisa Dixon. The combination of music, text, lighting, and of course movement gave the opening section a soothing Zen-like quality.
Barnes has an eye for spatial patterns and groupings that extends beyond the need for symmetry. He had the most diverse cast, both technically and physically and he successfully accomplished the first rule of choreography- utilize your cast to their best advantage. The choreography was clean and the dancers performed with self-assuredness, which translates into being well rehearsed and coached.
Thelma Hill veteran Marlies Yearby used spoken word, breath timing and structured improvisational form to create My Mother’s Feet. Cellist Nioka accompanied her, and together Yearby endeared the audience with her mother’s “freestyle dancing” and her own mother wit. The powerful solo performance was an example to the collaborative and spontaneous creative process.
Alfred Gallman’s Anthem Of Praise (2001) was an excerpt from PSALMS- a tribute to the victims of September 11th. Set to the majestic gospel music of Richard Smallwood the section was an immediate audience rousing tour de force. The choreography included ample turns, extensions, jumps and both sustaining and staccato movement. His cast large ensemble cast glided through patterns that recalled two of Gallman’s major influences Talley Beatty and Fred Benjamin. Gallman’s movement influences were not a mere imitation but a deliberate stylistic choice that was more of a tribute.
The third performance in the series takes place tonight at 7:30 at the Kumble Theater. Whitney Hunter, Creative Outlet, Alpha Omega, Christal Brown-IN- SPIRIT and Carl Paris will present works ranging from performance art to traditional modern dance. To see the full roster of performers and to purchase tickets visit www.kumbletheater.org.
Tickets are $15/$12 (students and seniors) and may also be purchased at the Kumble Theater box office, or by calling 718-488-1624.
In Photo: 1) Poster art * 2) Delirious Dances* 3 & 4) Marlies Yearby**
Photo Credit * Rodney Hurley **Lee White
Video edit by Walter Rutledge