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'American Rhapsody' dispels the winter blues

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"American Rhapsody"

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There was no better elixir to help shake off the debilitating effects of the recent Polar Vortex than Dance Kaleidoscope’s “American Rhapsody” concert Friday on the One America Stage at Indiana Repertory Theatre in downtown Indianapolis.

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And curing the cabin fever no doubt experienced by many in attendance was the lively music of American composer George Gershwin, which inspired two of the three pieces presented—all choreographed by DK artistic director David Hochoy. Making its world premiere was “An American in Paris,” which opened the concert and closing it was “Rhapsody in Blue” (2006). Also included was “Farewell” (1988) set to the mournful “Bachianas Brasilieras No. 5” by Heitor Villia-Lobos.

Brandon Comer, who is in his 5th season with DK, has steadily improved to the point that Hochoy specifically choreographed “An American in Paris” to showcase him. The piece itself was set to Gershwin’s famous work of the same title. It was composed to evoke the sights and sounds of Paris in the ‘20s. Through the vivid characterizations and movement of the company dancers, those impressions, as imagined by Hochoy, of an American visitor strolling throughout the city, were splendidly captured. As for Comer—he more than demonstrated that he was deserving of Hochoy’s recognition. Paired in a charming duet with the delightful Caitlin Negron, who played a Vamp, the tall and athletic Comer exuded likeability and expressed an appealing musicality uniquely his own.

“Farewell,” a heartrending and soulful piece choreographed by Hochoy while he was still a member of the Martha Graham Company, clearly reflected his mentor’s undeniable influence. Telling the story of a woman who says goodbye to two men she has known her entire life, the work featured the masterful, not to mention photogenic, trio of Mariel Greenlee, Timothy June and Zach Young. The lyrical work was a tremendously affecting tribute to Hochoy’s close friend and former Graham company colleague, Julian Littleford, who died of cancer in August.

Another tribute came later in the form of large scale Hollywood film production numbers in “Rhapsody in Blue,” Hochoy’s invigorating piece set to Gershwin’s 1924 composition of the same title which incorporated both classical and jazz elements. Making for an exquisite romantic interlude was a section during which pairs of dancers, with men dressed in formal blue tails, and women in blue gowns, waltzed across the stage. Nothing short of spectacular was Timothy June’s dramatic lift of Liberty Harris, frozen in tableau at the end of the piece, causing the nearly full house to erupt into thunderous applause and cheers.

Heightened theatrics are a hallmark of Hochoy’s aesthetic. And in the case of “American Rhapsody,” Cheryl Sparks’ beautifully crafted costumes and Laura Glover’s breathtaking lighting design, only added to the glamour of an entertaining evening that was the perfect prescription for the winter weary.

For tickets and information regarding remaining concerts in the 2013-2014 Dance Kaleidoscope season call (317) 635-5252 or visit www.irtlive.com.

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