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Flatlands Dance Theatre
Flatlands Once Again Makes Audiences Think
In its latest concert entitled "Shakespeare'd: An Evening of Dance and Sonnets," Flatlands Dance Theatre evokes contemplation of life and death and of love and loss through its creativity, not only through dance, but through language.
The professional dance company based in Lubbock, Texas, performed the eight-piece concert May 3-4 in the Louise Hopkins Underwood Center for the Arts Firehouse Theatre in downtown Lubbock.
Hannah Kahn Dance Company
Hannah Kahn Dancers Elegant AT DSA
The original Hannah Dance Company was formed in New York City in 1976. Soon the company's stature was such that dancers who successfully auditioned into it felt they had "arrived." That was also the place and time that the Postmodern movement in dance (and most art forms) was at its peak. Now famous dancers were filming themselves walking on roof tops and calling it dance. Yvonne Rainer's "NO Manifesto" was accepted as gospel as it said "no" to most aspects of dance as it was known in the Modern era, including saying "no" to virtuosity. It was a time dominated by John Cage's "indeterminism" and music, props and any dance were seen as modalities whose only thing in common was that they occupied the same time and space. The "Grand Union" performance company was just closing down as a company in which any dancer did whatever they wanted and often chose any music they liked during the performance. If one looks at Hannah Kahn's early work one can see the postmodern influences, but she never said "no" to virtuosity. Nor did music just occupy space and time with the dance. Instead her dances used the music, almost always agreeing with one aspect of it. Kahn used music she chose elegantly, with dance phrasing developing and dissolving in subtle ways that demanded audience attention. And the dances required dancers with virtuosity.
This is the case in Kahn's current concert, "Thrum," which is being presented at the Denver School of the Arts Kay Schomp Theater on May 2nd and 3rd, 2013. Opening with the title work; "Thrum," Kahn sets phrasing on ten virtuoso dancers that vary in how they fit into ensembles. At times said phrasing is set on a single dancer against a bass background of the ensemble doing a simple walking phrase. That single dancer phrase accumulates into two dancers, then three, etc. until, as the music dynamic builds, the whole ensemble of ten dancers is dancing that phrase.. Kahn presents four works from 1996 to present - "Thrum," "Rift," "Circling Back," "Cross Purposes," and excerpts from a fifth. In each phrases develop in groups, duets, and trios with those groupings moving through the ensembles in complex ways and with said phrasing often moving into other dancers. The phrases themselves are often arcane, using movement inventions coupled with "standard" phrasing.
"Birth Of Rock And Roll" Saved By Gregory Gonzales - Well Almost
Ballet Ariel's concert, "Birth Of Rock And Roll" opened with a relatively long ballet, " - que mas - es toda una vida - ", which was choreographed by Gregory Gonzales to a four movement musical composition by Pablo Zeigler. That work was not only long, but much of it depended on unison phrasing that made it seem ponderous. The piece did have a duet danced by Gonzales and Doina Florea woven throughout it that was marvelously innovative and a delight to watch.
The rest of the April 28th program was a series of dances titled "The Birth of Rock and Roll," which was separated into three sections - Swing, Blues, and Rock. Choreographed by Ilena Norton that dance took unison to a level that had some audience leaving before an interminably long intermission ended. Throughout the dances Peter Strand and Kevin Burke moved as "lead clarinet", "trumpet," and "guitar' assuming finger snapping poses that were often trite. Amazingly Strand's faux clarinet never required any finger action on the valves.
Photo by David Andrews