Richmond Choreographer’s Showcase Shows City Wide Talent
Read More: Amanda Kinzer, Casey A. Royer, Egbert Vongmalaithong, Emily R. Todd, Martin Montgomery, Nicole Buggé, Richmond Choreographer's Showcase, RVA Dance, RVA Dance collective, Starr foster dance project, vcu dance
Choreographers are always searching for opportunities to present their work; dance festivals, shared concerts, even art walks. Most of these resources, however, require completed, and in some cases, previously performed works.
For an emerging choreographer this can be cumbersome.
The late March event at the Grace Street Theater provided both rising and established choreographers a chance to showcase their creative efforts by allowing new, un-produced works. This is the only dance concert on the East Coast to grant artists with this option.
Now in its 12th year, the Richmond Choreographer’s Showcase, produced by Starr Foster Dance Project, presented 10 works from a pool of 64 applicants. Six of the choreographers have ties to Richmond.
Egbert Vongmalaithong’s duet Soft Dramatics opened with a bang, literally. The dancers exploded into the space as their elongated limbs grew like flowers. An oversized hat, both worn and used as a prop, fanned the dancers as they whipped their hair and began to vogue. This disconnection of movement styles was cleverly braided together creating a dance reminiscent of a surrealist painting. Dali would be proud.
Kindled, a quartet by Emily R. Todd, displayed the choreographic strength of the program. Bodies are engulfed as the dancers grab and wrap around each other. An open palm repeatedly fluttered down the body as a reminder of memories or a spark of an idea. The four dancers and Todd herself impressively represented the only all student cast/choreographer in the show. Each of them are students from VCU Dance.
This year’s showcase also included dance films from Lauren B. Morris and Christina Carlotti Kolb. While both films dealt with outdoor spaces and the passing of time, their approaches to these themes varied. Morris’s Resulting In This took us on a personal journey. From rigorous shaking of the hands to shots of complete stillness, Morris’ gestural choreography defies time and place as the movement quickly jumps from three different natural environments. This is presented proficiently by Martin Montgomery’s inventive editing.
Kolb’s Just Keep Your Head Above followed two male dancers through the city streets at dawn. Their movement was percussive as they ran down stairs and beat on railings. Kolb’s use of selective focus was fantastically effective, even the sun peeking out on the horizon seemed choreographed.
Tightrope, a piece by Nicole Buggé, set traditional ballet movements in a contemporary setting. Instead of tutus the dancers donned skirts, which were lifted and played with throughout the piece. The music, a collection of songs by Jahn Sood, was an entertaining choice. Unfortunately the choreography, which was at times unimaginative, failed to match the uniqueness of the corky score.
Rounding out the show was Mariah Maloney’s Slip, the collaborative creation Summing Up by Kevin LaMarr Jones, Edwin Roa, and Erin White, Old Dominion University’s Director of Dance Amanda Kinzer’s In the Garden, and Ripe and Ruined, a trio by RVA Dance Collective’s Casey A. Royer.
Closing this year’s showcase was Foster’s own piece, Apartment No. 9. The dancers have two roles here; they are the voyeurs or they are the ones being watched. Two chairs serve as surfaces to roll, climb, stand, and lay on as the dancers seductively partner with one another. Their commitment is impressive. At times I felt as though I should not be looking but I could not help myself. Foster’s ability to turn an audience into eager peeping toms should be applauded.
Michael Jarett’s intense lighting design added to Apartment No. 9’s voyeuristic tendencies. Single light bulbs hanging from the ceiling switched on and off as the dancers flick their fingers. The result was mesmerizing and perfectly unsettling.
For more information on the Starr Foster Dance Project, check out www.sfdproject,org.
Rebecca A. Ferrell, a native of Richmond, Virginia, is a dance educator, choreographer and performer. She is currently the artistic director of FDANCE, a project dedicated to her work as an intervention dance artist. Rebecca holds a BFA in Dance and Choreography from Virginia Commonwealth University as well as a MFA in Dance from Arizona State University. She is currently adjunct faculty at VCU Dance and is in charge of dance curriculum at John Tyler Community College. When she is not dancing, Rebecca is making cupcakes, breaking hearts, and obsessing over the color pink.
“If you have talent or not, if you are willing to work, I want to teach you,”January 12, 2017
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