Dance.Local. Shows Urgency, Athleticism, and Comic Relief
On May 10 and 11, 2013, Richmond modern dance company, rva dance collective, presented their annual spring concert “Dance.Local.” at the Grace Street Theatre.
Co-artistic directors Jess Burgess and Danica Kalemdaroglu both presented new works along with company members Henry Hill Jr. and the choreographic debut of Casey Royer. Students from The Dance Company, a local dance studio from Mechanicsville, Virginia and Latin Vintage also shared the stage alongside rva dance collective.
The show began with Danica Kalemdaroglu’s Pushing Through Patience. Tender partnering and staccato gestures created a complex yet compassionate environment. As the five women reached and wrapped around each other I sensed the supportive nature of sisters, each movement sympathetic to where the next step would take the other. The dancers’ connection, whether intertwined or at opposite ends of the stage, was impressive. Their bond stayed in tact throughout the duration of the piece. Dancer Eliza Diener-Brazelle’s dynamic performance was particularly notable.
Jess Burgess’ Stomp, was an athletic piece set on the students from The Dance Company. Dressed in all black with dramatic eye make-up, the dancers leaped and turned in structured formations giving the piece a militant feel. While the nervousness of some of these young performers was obvious, overall their performance was enjoyable.
Ripe and Ruined, a trio by Casey Royer, felt a bit disconnected. Each of the three dancers started the piece in individual boxes of light. As the piece progressed, however, their internal focus did not shift even when they began partnering with one another. I also found the music distracting. The choreography, while interesting at times, seemed to be dictated by the music, instead of allowing the movement and sound to accentuate each other.
The comic relief was Henry Hill Jr.’s whimsical See, whathadhappenedwas…This cheeky piece illustrated the story of a man, Hill, and the two females, Burgess and Kalemdaroglu, who were fighting for his attention. The women flirted shamelessly and worked tirelessly to out shine the other, turning and twisting around Hill who, of course, exuded complete coolness. While I found this love triangle narrative over done, the dancers’ performances were delightful and very entertaining to watch.
Kalemdaroglu’s second piece of the night, Stuck In The Waiting Room to the Lobby of Life, was the stand out of the show. The piece, choreographed and beautifully performed by Kalemdaroglu, explored the monotonous frustrations of every day life. Kalemdaroglu, in the center of a pool of warm light, began the piece with a bit of theatrics. Waiting in line at the DMV and prompts to change passwords are imitated, bringing a sense of familiarity and humor. Set to the music of Jon Brion and text by Kalemdaroglo, the piece becomes intense as the viciousness of life is described. Laced with impressive balances and circular patterns, Kalemdaroglu slices through the space seamlessly, each movement exact. Her use of repetition is effective and a clear reminder of how tedious daily routines can be.
In an effort to highlight local dance, rva dance collective invited Richmond’s Latin Vintage to perform. The company’s artistic director, Julissa Cruz’s Mucho Control was energetic, dynamic, and exciting to watch. However, I was disappointed by the shortness of the piece. It felt more like a combination from dance class as opposed to a completed work. Additionally, while I appreciate rva dance collective’s desire to showcase other companies in the Richmond area, this piece was ill-fitting alongside the rest of the works shown.
Closing the show was Jess Burgess’s My house, myself. The piece explored the ongoing struggle of America’s housing crisis. Clad in white dresses the five dancers gracefully move over, around, and on top of two black boxes representing their “homes”. Burgess’ integration of the blocks and the timing of how and when they were manipulated was simple yet very effective. The music, by Nail Inch Nails, added an anxious feeling to the piece. As the dancers urgently moved from box to box, covering and protecting their homes, I too was waiting for the unpredictable outcome. Would they lose their home? Do they have to move again? Is a home just where you live? Or is it part of who you are? The piece concluded with Henry Hill Jr. alone alongside the two blocks stacked on top of one another. A haunting image that leaves me questioning my own self-identity in relation to what I consider my home.
RVA dance collective will holding free summer classes at Dogtown Dance Theatre on Sundays from 10-11:30. Please check out rvadancecollective.com for calendar and updates.
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.
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