DancEthos is not your average dance company – filled with identical stick thin dancers sashaying in unison behind a soloist. Company founder and director Tiffany Haughn has a gift for choreographing for an ensemble; in this case, letting each of the 22 dancers onstage shine in turn. She has choreographed two new works in her typical style, mining everyday movement as choreography. The dancers wear street clothes or close to it and use deceptively simple, every day movements to build these pieces.
Her pieces are “Fleeting” and “Piazzollo,” accompanied by the West Shore Piano Trio. Both are impressive studies of motion focused on life and death and tango. Violinist Heather Haughn, cellist Diana Flesner, and pianist Jay Dewire thrive on the technically intricate Braham’s “Piano Trio in B Major” and the sensual “Four Seasons of Buenos Aires” by Astor Piazolla.
Tiffany Haughn has woven collaboration into the fabric of her company and for the rest of the evening, five other choreographers take the stage to traditional classics and new music by Michael Aaron.
Rick Westerkamp’s “what touches will dissolve” is set to a spoken word poem by local artist Sarah D. Lawson. His innovative choreography, focused on the connection between dancers and their relationship to space, is visually stunning and surprising.
Ronya-Lee Anderson’s piece “Hinges” follows in Haughn’s footsteps of holding up a microscope to everyday movement – this time of our regular routines and transforming them.
Felipe Oyarzun’s “In Memory Of” includes memory herself – a woman dressed in a dress made of post-it notes full of remembrances – most of them heartbreaking in this story of domestic abuse.
Erica Rebollar’s “Absurdist Suites II” is the most amusing and strange exploration of the evening, featuring the disjointed, random movements of dancers slapping each other in the face set to “Wouldn’t It Be Nice.
DancEthos is a local treasure. Tiffany Haughn has managed to do the nearly-impossible in this day and age and create something truly new – an egalitarian dance company focused on collaboration that glorifies every movement and every body. Which is not to say they are not all incredibly skilled dancers; their movement seems to come to from the soul. Their collaboration for Fringe with other local musical and spoken word artists further enriches their dancing and makes for an enthralling show.
Running Time: 90 minutes, with no intermission.
DancEthos with The West Shore Piano Trio plays through this Saturday, July 25, 2015, at the Dance Place: Cafritz Foundation Theater – 3225 8th Street NE, in Washington, DC. For information or tickets, visit their Capital Fringe page.