Throughout his 22 seasons as artistic director of Dance Kaleidoscope, gifted choreographer David Hochoy has consistently demonstrated his rare ability to shape exquisite beauty and elicit heartfelt emotion. DK’s current season offering, “Piaf Plus,” includes two of Hochoy’s pieces that are among the best of the more than 50 works he has created. The concert, which opened Thursday, continues through March 24 at the Indiana Repertory Theatre’s Upperstage in downtown Indianapolis.
Act 1 of “Piaf Plus” featured “Frère Jacques.” A DK world premiere in 2009, Hochoy choreographed the work to music by Jacques Brel, a Belgian singer and songwriter, from the American musical “Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris” that debuted Off-Broadway in 1968.
“Piaf: A Celebration,” which was a resounding hit of the 2011 IndyFringe Festival, was danced to songs performed by Edith Piaf, the legendary French chanteuse.
DK has gone through some significant changes recently — resulting from the replacement of several veteran dancers who left last season with new ones — but the energy and vitality of the fresh, new company was clearly evident in “Piaf Plus.”
Standout performances in “Frère Jacques” included Mariel Greenlee and Timothy June dancing a snappy duet of “Madeline”; Zach Young’s solo as a cocky young rogue in “Jackie”; and Liberty Harris dancing solo in “Marieke,” a plaintive song about a Flemish girl who Brel once loved.
A favorite piece, performed by the entire company in Act 1, was the one danced to “The Desperate Ones,” a despairing song about young people losing hope.
Another was the ingenious “Carousel,” in which Hochoy magnificently recreated the figures and movement of a merry-go-round, choreographed to a song that continuously speeds up before ending abruptly.
“Piaf: A Celebration,” which was seen by this writer at the 2011 IndyFringe Festival, was as wonderful as he remembered it — if not more so. It featured two stunning duets. One was Liberty Harris and Timothy June dancing to Piaf’s haunting interpretation of the love song “Hymne a Amour” (“Hymn to Love”), and the other was Jillian Godwin and Zach Young’s intensely passionate dance interpretation of “Mon Dieu” (“My God”).
In a concert that was an ideal showcase for the athleticism, musicality and dramatic and comedic skills of the dancers, the company also gave outstanding performances as they performed to “Padam Padam” and “Bravo Pour Le Clown!” (“Hooray for the Clown!”), which featured dancers tossing two life-size dolls about the stage.
“La Vie En Rose” (“Life in Rosy Hues”) and “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien” (“No, I’m Not Sorry for Anything”), pieces set to two of Piaf’s most famous songs, concluded the concert. These works further reinforced Hochoy’s uncommon artistry and the talent of his dancers — a collaboration that effectively captured the romance, heartbreak and joy expressed by the incomparable Piaf.
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