Yes! Gets National Dance Companies on the RVA Stage
Yes! National Dance Invitational, now in its 15th year, is presented by K Dance under the artistic direction of Kaye Weinstein Gary. This year’s performance, which included three shows (October 18-19) and took place at Manchester’s historical and charming Dogtown Dance Theatre, was the strongest invitational to date.
The show began with Gin Dance Company’s The Core, an almost meditative piece full of preciseness and delicacy. The five dancers, wrapped in white chiffon-like fabric, shifted in small individual sections of the stage. While they did not interact with one another physically, their repetitive phrasing and direct focus created a lovely connection throughout the piece.
The percussive Breathe by Chisena Danza was my favorite dance of the night. Her movements, matching perfectly with live vocalist Katonya Mosley and drummer Jonathan Cannon, reminding me of a snake being charmed. Her body slithered effortlessly through the space as the talented Mosley created an inimitable rhythm with her voice. As Chisena’s movements and the music quickened, I found myself holding my breath, anxious for what would happen next. The piece ended similar to how it started; Chisena kneeling down center stage with only the sound of breathing filling the space. This full circle narrative did not disappoint.
While primarily a dance showcase, K Dance’s Kaye Weinstein Gary and Billy Christopher Maupin brought the theatrical aspects to the show. Gary’s The Dog was a true delight. From her colorful tutu to her perfectly delivered text, Gary shined from start to finish. Maupin’s direction of 140, a much darker theatre piece, brought us into a ring of infidelity. Through dance and text the actors skillfully weaved from lover to the betrayed to observer.
Also featured in this year’s show was S/OAP Lab, featuring Richmond Ballet II dancer Gavin Stewart, and Houston Met Dance Company. Each piece had some interesting choreographic elements but I am finding the “heterosexual relationship in crisis” theme a bit overused. The dancing, however, was suburb.
For the past six years K Dance has invited guest artist from Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch” list to perform in their invitational. This year’s section, Bodytraffic, was hands down the audience favorite. Their piece, O2JOY, was by far the most energetic and entertaining piece I have seen all year. Each performer, all technically impressive, owned the stage. From witty gestures, to flawless turns, to heartfelt partnering, O2JOY was the perfect ending to a well-curated and powerfully performed show. I think it would be impossible to leave Yes! National Dance Invitational without a smile on your face.
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.
As far and as deep as Le Sacre du Printemps goes, the company’s visual elements were stellar.April 14, 2016
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