The Atlas INTERSECTIONS Festival continued its mission of “creating connection through innovative art” today with Voice(s) by DancEthos. For a refreshing twist in the contemporary dance world, DancEthos paired up with talented musical artists The West Shore Piano Trio, Euphonism, and Pauline Pisano and we were treated to live music onstage with the dancers. Printed in the program was the following quote, which was expressed with heart and soul throughout the first piece:
“Gender and all other denominations by which we categorize and dismiss each other need to be excavated from the inside.” Dorothy Allison
The first movement, The Divide (2012), is at once a visually pleasing array, as the company of four men: Matthew Bennett, Nathan Victoria, Donnie Walker, and Rick Westerkamp, and six women: Jenny T. Flemingloss, Colleen Hutchings, Carolyn Kamrath, Dora Shick, Mandy Swann, and Kathleen Weitz, don watercolors of cool blue and green. The choreography by Tiffany Haughn expresses an honest portrayal of life stories. I saw friends, mothers, lovers, acquaintances, coworkers all continuously moving and encountering one another using specific patterns in the choreography, one of my favorites being churning. Passing time, the daily grind, working hard – these themes all came to mind. There was a busy city feeling, as the dancers passed each other, changing angles and speed, as if to say we don’t have time for one another as we should. The moments they met and partnered, falling and supporting each other – or fighting and competing with each other as was shown in later parts of the movement – stirred up emotions in me relevant to my daily life. Beautiful classical music composed by Rebecca Clarke and performed by The West Shore Piano Trio: Heather Haughn (violin), Diana Flesner (cello), and Jay DeWire (piano), accompanied the action onstage with such vigor. The piano keys churned and fluttered under steady mellow strings that sped up with intensity.
The second movement, Listen, is a world premiere with energetic choreography by Carolyn Kamrath The a cappella group “Euphonism” enters, including Amanda Cornaglia Aldag, Charlie Friday, Joseph Kang, James (Jeeves) Murphy, Laura McCann, John Baer, and Johanna Horn. The dancers: Elizabeth Barton*, Amanda Blythe*, Jenn Burka*, Megan Furman* (* indicates guest artist), Colleen Hutchings, Meg McDermott, Leah Rothschild*, Vanessa Rowan, Mandy Swann, Donnie Walker, Kathleen Weitz, and Rick Westerkamp enter looking sharp in purple, beige, and black. The microphone volume was a bit overpowering but seemed to even out by the third song, “Please Don’t Go,” which was my favorite of this movement, with the use of spotlights, great height and extension in the choreography, and a whole lot of everyone’s personality showing through individually. They moved and flowed with great ease and excitement.
The third and final movement is an outstanding world premiere of Voice(s) On the Hook with chorography by Matthew Bennett, Rick Westerkamp, and Jenny T. Flemingloss. Dancers in the six movements include the above mentioned dancers as well as Sarah Gonzalez, Elizabeth Odell Catlett (understudy), Daniela Blechner, Tina Fratello, and Katie Miller. The smooth, sultry voice and piano stylings of Pauline Pisano are featured. She was paired up quite professionally with Jessie Reagan Mann (cello), David Fallo (viola), Jason Yudoff (cajon), Jason Crawford (percussion), Jay Giacomazzo (bass), and William Dixon Brancato (acoustic guitar). DancEthos should always perform with this amazing team of instrumentalists. The dancers’ fire and passion was totally exposed, the women wore stunning red dresses, and the storytelling brought tears to my eyes – a woman in love, not getting the affection she so desires and deserves. The themes were so identifiable, I could feel the nearly sold-out audience’s total engagement in the action and vulnerability. Angular shapes, ever-changing directions and levels, and high extension and energy abound. Pisano’s gorgeous voice expresses deep emotions like I’m scared of what I became” and encouragement with “It’s just a temporary situation.” The choreography goes right along, plunging forward with the lyrics and pausing with breaks for emphasis in the music. I wish I could see this whole movement again. It was stunning, captivating, relatable, romantic – everything I desire.
Running Time: One hour, with no intermission.
Voice(s) played February 23, 2013 at Atlas Performing Arts Center – 1333 H St NE, in Washington, DC. Tickets for upcoming INTERSECTIONS shows can be purchased online. For more information about DancEthos, visit their website.