Sketches at Dogtown Poured Culture into the Streets of RVA
Headline image Annielille Gavino Kollman & Kevin LaMarr Jones in Immigraphobia via Candace Morgan
Culture, connection, and community – These three things were pouring out of Dogtown Dance Theatre on Saturday, November 9, 2013. Kevin LaMarr Jones, the artistic director of CLAVES UNIDOS, is a master at bringing people together through the art of dance and this weekend’s performance of Sketches was no different.
Jones, a graduate of VCU Dance, has been hosting classes and events in the Richmond area since 2010. Sketches, the third of his main stage productions, brought together two autobiographical stories, Immigraphobia and Black Orpheus and the Mountain. Both pieces included multi-generational and cultural casts, a rarity in the Richmond dance scene.
Opening the performance was Annielille Gavino-Kollman’s Immigraphobia. This evening’s length work, a first for the choreographer, shares her story of immigrating to the United States. Raised in the Philippines, Gavino-Kollman illustrated her journey through a series of theatrical scenes. From rice fields, to mail order brides, to the processing of government paperwork, the dancers fully committed to the roles they were given.
The movement, however, ranged from all sides of the spectrum. Pedestrian gestures, balletic phrases, Indian dances and even what seemed to be an Irish jig were included. While I found this exciting to watch, it was confusing to pinpoint how the various cultures represented Gavino-Kollman’s personal journey.
Annielille Gavino Kollman & Danny Reyes in Immigraphobia via Candace Morgan
Adding to the collaborative theme of the show was the inclusion of live musicians. Barry Bless’ accordion playing fantastic was electrifying to watch. Danny Reyes and Alex McCallum from My Darling Fury brought a calmer but equally as impressive performance with their song Blots in Margins.
Immigraphobia concluded on a high note. A joyful soul-train line that sent an uplifting reminder that regardless of our cultural background, we are all human beings that love to celebrate life.
Black Orpheus and the Mountain, the final piece in Sketches, was an autobiographical look into the near death experience of dancer and choreographer Meoleaeke Arebreane Jones. Dancers Kevin LaMarr Jones and LaWanda Raines also lent a helping choreographic hand in the creation of this piece.
Black Orpheus and the Mountain via Candace Morgan
Through a clear narrative, Jones takes us through the series of events that led him to where he is now. From partying with his friends, to a coma, to a literal come-to-Jesus moment, Jones and his fellow choreographers use hip hop, modern dance, and Latin styles of movement to communicate his experience.
During one scene, four male dancers were in the midst of a dance battle. One by one they tried to top the others with kicks, turns, and some of the most impressive break dancing I have ever seen. The audience began clapping and chanting them on as they continued their competition. This form of participation further reinstates the sense of community CLAVES UNIDOS strives for.
As Sketches concluded it was refreshing to see such diverse groupings of people gathered together. Regardless of race, gender, or age, the entire theatre exploded with unified glee. If this is what Kevin LaMarr Jones envisioned his art to achieve, then he has much to be proud of.
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.
This weekend at Dogtown Dance Theatre four local choreographers, each with national acclaim, will merge their modern and ballet backgrounds with INTERSECTIONS, a collaborative show that embraces the diversity of the Richmond dance scene. This weekend’s performances will also serve as a debut for Annielille Gavino Kollman’s dance company, Malayaworks. Kollman’s goal with her dance [...]June 18, 2014
- The Art of Dance Explored At New Art Works Gallery Show, February 27, 2014
- Dogwood Dance Brings Unique, Educational, And Meaningful Dance to Dogtown Stage, January 8, 2014
- Sketches at Dogtown Dance Tells Personal Stories From Unique Cultures, November 6, 2013
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