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Blue Moon Dance Company and Grupo Macondo
Blue Moon and Abankwah Add Macondo and Silvestre
Pat Connelly's Blue Moon Dance Company evolved from a vernacular dance base to more when they added the African rhythms of Adjei Abankwah to their concerts just over a year ago. Their 2009 concert (October 23 and 24) in the Boulder Dairy Center for the Arts Performance Space added even more. More Abankwah, plus a long work based in Latin dances set by Grupo Macondo's Carmen Nelson, and one of Rosangela Silvestre's works, based on her perceptions of whatever gods she chooses for inspiration. The result was a varied concert with a huge cast. And most of the nine choreographers represented in the thirteen(!) works presented, realized varied successes as well.
Abankwah's three works "Asanan," "Tielama," "Kalabole" all melded traditional African movements and isolations with modern and vernacular modalities - including innovative lifts. Movement phrasing in the works took on all aspects of the music choices, which had little change in dynamic, or articulation. That significantly reduced their performance life. "Asanan" and "Tielama" were so similar in content, even in the endings, that not even the virtuosity of Abankwah's partners, Beth Moger and Courtney Murray, could add enough variation to avoid them appearing the same.
Ying Chang's "Circles," set on himself and Sol Benson, showed remarkable progress in his choreographic process, but seriously went past any performance life. Pat Connelly's "Upside (but not down!!)" was well conceived and benefitted greatly from Courtney Murray's solid abilities and Chris Nuernberger's strength as her partner. But the piece lost impact per result of his seeming inability to exploit Murray's abilities in fluid and organic ways. However, in Connelly's "Here to Stay" Nuernberger's partnering of Beth Moger was stunning and showed both Moger and Connelly's inventiveness off well. That piece was somewhat marred by well intentioned audience members, whose shouts and inappropriate clapping tried to turn the performance of it into some sort of TV reality show competition.
Sol Benson's work as a choreographer and dancer was woven throughout the show. Her "Open Arms," choreographed with Julius Reinante, and set on the two of them was totally lovely and lasted well through the short music choice, despite similar audience interferences. Her "Blue Velvet," choreographed with Nuernberger suffered from taking on all aspects of a slightly varied music score that neither her nor Nuernberger's presence could overcome.
Rosangela Silvestre's "Fresh Water" was a graceful and easy to watch representation of her perceptions of the goddess "Oxum," and was wonderfully assisted by the sweet voice of Neisha Remaily-Silva, as well as Remaily-Silva's, Ashley Natalaya's, Carmen Nelson's, Malaika Pettigrew's, and Antoinette Vastenberg's grace in movement.
Most memorable in this concert was Carmen Nelson's "El Salon de Baile," with sections on Mambo, Merengue, and Salsa. Somehow a long, long narrative by Gustavo Reyna did not overwhelm, perhaps due to his presence, timing and voice. That narrative set the stage for wonderful Latin dances and amazing characters, including an aging Don Juan (Carl Nelson), a spectacular Dandy (Rico Changeux), a desperate and aging partner for Changeux who got so excited she died (Carmen Nelson), and some delightful "Mambo Muses" in Norma Johnson, Judy Kreith, Malakai Pettigrew, and Shireen Malik (whose big hair outed her despite her sunglasses). Ensembles were huge(!) and it seemed everybody on stage had as much fun being there as the audience did in watching them. And Lindsay Miller was a stunning salsa dancer.
Pat Connelly and Blue Moon get a great big A+ for taking collaboration to a new level.
Donald K. Atwood MFA, Ph.D.
© Copyright World Dance Reviews 2009