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Austin Turned Inside Out for Dance

“Turned Inside Out” is the new dance show by Chaddick Dance Theatre (CDT), coinciding with the company’s opening of the new First Street Studio on Austin’s east side. Opening a studio with a show offering plenty of new material is an impressive feat in its own right. The first weekend’s audiences were large and well satisfied by the new dance-oriented studio and the show presented within it.

The first piece on the bill was by Katherine Walter Hodges of Ready/Set/Go! Dance, a partner company of CDT in building the studio. “Someone to Hold on To” was an almost classic pas de deux of well-paired dancers. The dance premiered in last month’s “Leap of Faith” show at the Off-Center.

“The Perfect Offering” was the first piece by Chaddick Dance Theatre on the evening’s program. It was a hilarious send-up of ballet that gave us pointed reminders of the physical and emotional costs paid by dancers. We were reminded that ballet developed in the patriarchal and stratified societies of old Europe, in which young female dancers were impersonal material to be used to create the nobility’s art. This antidemocratic and decidedly nonfeminist system is justified to this day by its continuing ability to create beauty. This piece created some of that very beauty in the final section of the dance.

“Wallflowers” was the second piece by Ready/Set/Go! The title proved to be a pun as the dancers performed at least three sections of the piece leaning or sitting on the upstage wall. Performed by two female dancers, the piece also conveyed considerable emotional power; but one wonders if it also conveyed a somewhat hidden or underground theme of rough Lesbian sex. This mental image played as one of the dancers toed (metaphorically kicked?) and rolled the other dancer back to the wall for another section of the dance. Such themes are fit material for modern dance, certainly, and are not in any way flaws.

A flaw, however, was the egregious misprint in the program regarding “Wallflowers.” In the list of dancers for “Wallflowers,” the program reported two names for the female dancers. But one of the names was that of a male, in fact the male dancer who earlier had danced in “Someone to Hold on To” and who was credited correctly for that dance. He certainly did not dance in “Wallflowers.” The actual, unreported dancer in “Wallflowers” was Emily Boykin, a highly skilled and committed performer. A modern dance career today is too under-recognized and underpaid for such oversights to pass without remark. A paper error insert in the programs yet to be circulated during the remainder of the run is well justified and recommended.

“Jupiter” was a multi-media piece by the former Little Stolen Moments choreographer Lindsey Taylor, and it might be subtitled “or, Bizarre Space and Beyond the Infinite.” Six dancers wearing 60s futuristic hooded costumes danced shape-heavy routines reminiscent of the June Taylor Dancers on the Jackie Gleason Show. We quickly saw that they were jovian citizens, paying much attention to the video projection behind them. The video asked the question: “What if there is life on Jupiter?” imagined while listening to Holz’ The Planets suite. And we saw the answer, too, thanks to choreographer Taylor and videographer P.J. Raval, who made it clear that you, too, would explode if you were a jovian citizen forced to listen to Holz’ The Planets as your national anthem. “Jupiter” was easily the most accessible and funny piece in “Turned Inside Out.”

The second half of the show was the CDT piece “Right to Wrong to Right,” performed by the very athletic CDT company of five dancers. The dance had at least nine sections as demarcated by soundtrack changes. The company’s athleticism was well exercised in getting through this much material. The high points of the dance were Katie Mae Hebert’s wild, tribal solo toward the end of the piece and Cody Edwards’ intense commitment and intent for every gesture and movement throughout the piece. He is a male dancer to be followed with interest throughout his career.

“Turned Inside Out” was a bright showcase for the opening of First Street Studio. The show was literally well-lit by lighting designer Sam Chesney, who also adapted some of the electrical system for the new studio. Mr Chesney seems to have found a home with CDT and First Street Studio, and the future is very bright indeed for all involved.

“Turned Inside Out” by Chaddick Dance Theatre runs May 22-31, 2014 at the First Street Studio, 2410 East Cesar Chavez St., east Austin.