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Dance Baltimore presents The Men's Dance/Talking Loud and Ageless Grace at Theatre Project

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Dance Baltimore at Theatre Project

Published with permission.

A Dance Review by Harriet Lynn

Dance Baltimore presents – The Men’s Dance/Talking Loud
April 30, 2010, 7:00 pm - Theatre Project, Baltimore, MD
Ageless Grace - May 1, 2010 - 7:00 pm – Theatre Project
 
Dance Baltimore hosted The Men’s Dance/Talking Loud dance concert on April 30, 2010 at Theatre Project in Baltimore, MD. Prior to the actual dance performance several of the guest choreographers for the evening ‘s program, Algernon Campbell, Doug Hamby and Vincent Thomas discussed their work and process with the audience with Cheryl Goodman, Founder/Director of Dance Baltimore, presiding over the informal discussion with audience members. This pre-sequel provided some insight and behind-the scenes information, but it always seems that dance, speaks best for itself. 
 
Mr. Campbell’s two dance works, Om and I Do…Not, opened both Act One and Act II, respectively. Om was a meditative dance with its hypnotic music by Wade Imre Morrissette, performed aptly by six dancers from The Collective. The waves of the sound and movement were well meshed and brought the audience into its trance like wavelength. On the other spectrum, I Do…Not, performed by the choreographer himself and a stunning dancer, Heather Brooke-Malone, with original music by Vivian Adelburg Rudow was another means on taking the audience on a hypnotic type experience, but one that was fraught with male-female angst. Ms. Brooke-Malone’s sinewy lines and beauty were used well in this lover’s “quarrel”. Mr. Campbell brought both spiritual and visceral content to the stage with these two offerings.
 
The evening also brought a young man’s talent and dance crew with raw streetwise sensibility to the concert. Choreographer, Dan’te Champ Jenifer, uses pop culture music, such as in his first entry with a dance using a song by Rihanna and performed by a young woman of the Project X Entourage. (Note: Unfortunately, the dancers’ names in both dance works were not listed in the program). Signed, Unloved and Unwanted is a poignant and tragic tale of a young woman who has been apparently been discarded. Life has dealt her a tough hand and Shakespeare’s to be or not to be is the question…is set up from the onset of the dance as the revolver sits on the table which (the table) is also used as her performance stage as well as the floor. This young woman dancing displayed much commitment and also has some beautiful arabesque extensions mixed in with tortured moves. As an audience member I was drawn in and also taken by surprise by it’s theatrical and devastating ending.
 
Mr. Jenifer’s other work, A New Classic, with musicby Janet Jackson and performed by four male members of Project X Dance Entourage,brought hip hop dancing to the stage. This street-based art form and self-expression brings out an undeniable and attractive inventiveness of originality in movement. To perfect these movements must take considerable practice and definitely passion by those who are engaged. These young men executed their solo and group moves mostly in sync and in rhythm. It is their excitement and pleasure in the doing of what seems at times “out of body” movements that delights the audience and has us in disbelief that the human body can really perform such a variety of actions and syncopations. These dancers are truly using their bodies like instruments and learning how to play them and see how far they can go. What fun and pleasure to witness.

 


Cheryl Goodman and Gary Dunn

Thomas’ iWitness dance epic easily can stand alone and out of context from the dance saga he recently performed with other dancers of his VTDance ensemble at Doug Hamby’s choreography took us on a journey of inventive play of runs and abrupt stops using much control and focus as displayed by the athletic Joshua Barnard as its soloist. The impetus seemed to be Steve Reich’s music which is actually percussive hand clapping. The piece is very rhythmic and the movements covering the stage by Mr. Bernard were quite engaging to watch and just enjoy for the sake of experiencing the choreographertoying with movement ideas influenced by the sound of two hands clapping.

Tony Byrd’s dance composition, Melee, performed by himself and Ian Anderson, mustered up a lot of masochism on the stage. Observing these two competitive men with their escalating violent attempts to conquer the other one reminded me of today’s intense “caged” warriors in the ring with full body contact. With bare chests these two men kept coming at each other using intense physical moves of dance, yet primal in its essence and brute force. This was a very riveting piece and totally exhausting I would think for the duo as well as the audience.
 
On a mellower note, we experienced the music of Marvin Gaye danced and choreographed by Dr. Charles Carter. A Baltimore native, Dr. Carter is on sabbatical from his associate professor position at Northern Illinois University. Here we witness to the classic song, Mercy, an individual’s personal expression, interpretationand vocabulary of modern dance and gestural moves. Watching Dr. Carter eloquently develop his theme was like a history lesson in dance meshing culture in this soulful movement work.
 
Come Change an excerpt solo work of Vincent Theatre Project. There are many parts to this solo backed by a music mosaic /sound collage by Daniel Jose Older and costumes by Jodi Ozimek and Mr. Thomas. This is a mature piece layered with repetitive themes and demonstrates a strong technique, intensity and commitment. Mr. Thomas is “storyteller “ and a secure dancer to watch. One feels that he has a lot to say and mixing mediums gives him a rich palette to work from and move us as an audience.
 
The closing dance of the evening of Men’s Dance/Talking Loud was movement activity: Cezanne, choreographed by Mikey Butane Thomas, and was for this reviewer the least successful of the works presented that evening. Perhaps, I could not get passed the disturbing music described by the program notes as a “pastiche mixed by the choreographer”. Obviously, it was intentional, but it was distracting so much so for me that I could not focus on the committed four dancers of The Collective moving in lyrical type patterns around the stage in various colored chiffon short skirts. Music by Gabriel Faure (Sicilienne) and One Thousand Cycles, composed by Christian Marclay, (a scratchy hodge podge of electronic sounds, etc..) perhaps, was to throw together the more genteel forms of dance and culture with more modern abrasiveness of some of today’s rawer venues. But if this is so, the dance elements and focus of the piece did not seemed finished. If this is the choreographer’s rationale, then perhaps, it successfully worked for him, but for this reviewer, the dance neededmore time in the rehearsal studio and the musical accompaniment be reviewed and, hopefully, revised. But I do look with curiosity to see some future works of this choreographer since this was my first introduction to his work.

Tapsichore

In addition to this evening’ s event, the following night at Theatre Project, Dance Baltimore once again produced the dance concert,Ageless Grace. Dancers 40 +and as far as into their 80’swere strutting their stuff all over the stage in all forms of dance ranging from tap, modern, liturgical, and comedic that made everyone in the audience loose a few years just from watching these dancers give their all.

It was my pleasure to host as M.C. and present, Baltimore’s own Ella Shields (1879-1952), British Music Hall and vaudeville legend, singing her signature song, Burlington Bertie from Bow and present the otheracts on the bill. Ed Terry’s Tapsichoree provided two venues, Steppin Out and Puttin’ on the Ritz. Their elegant tap dancing was delightful and infectious. The Waxter Senior Center’s indomitable High Steppers under the direction of Leon Britton, brought much pleasure at seeing this company have such a good time performing for an enthusiastic audience.   Dr. Charles Carter performed again his soulful Mercy, beautifully and with wisdom to the sounds of Marvin Gaye. The Spirit Moving Dance Ministry/Oak Street AME Church gave us Increase Me choreographed by Mereida Goodman and was truly a dancing prayer of faith and abundance. The Delaware based dizzy, dancing, daredevils, the Itinerant Dance Theatre, came with their fun and zany choreography danced by Sherene Lindo (Dizzy Dance) and Cathy Samardza’s solo, Ode to a Scarf and her group number, Bouncy Dance). Sumo Mime was quite funny too making fun of miming and choreographed and danced by Juanita Wieczoreck. New Era Dance presented Fool with music by Meshelle N’degeocello and choreographed and danced by Cheryl Goodman and Gary Dunn. Their dance brought the down the house, and deservedly so.   In essence, a good time,was had by all! Ageless Grace is a celebration that dance is timeless, universal and a reminder to us all that dancing keeps us forever young!
 
Dance Baltimore, is a non-profit art organization and serves as a focus point for the local dance community. 
 
Harriet Lynn, dance critic, is Producer/Artistic Director of Heritage Theatre Artists’ Consortium and also a professional dancer/actress with many regional and national credits.  

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